Mindful eating can transform your personal life along with your health & well-being, for good. When was the last time that you enjoyed at least one meal of your day paying attention to what is on your plate, instead of eating in auto-mode whilst playing a game or watching a TV show? My guess is – a long while ago! Read on to know how mindful eating can improve your relationship with food.
Sometimes, the quest to eat the ‘right’ food can feel like a burden or a stressful task to execute, even if you try your best to fit it in your daily life. Do you also sometimes question the intention of making a particular food choice? I’ve been lately realizing that while food is a fundamental part of life, getting anxious about food choices wasn’t. This is where the concept of mindful eating begins to make more and more sense.
WHAT IS MINDFUL EATING
Deriving its origin from Buddhism, mindful eating focuses on ‘how, when, where and how much we eat’, in addition to ‘what we eat’. The idea here is to concentrate on the experience of eating and to appreciate the same, and this can be achieved by turning off the TV, putting the laptop in sleep mode, keeping the phone away from you and placing your entire attention onto your plate, the flavors and textures it comprises of, and on chewing every morsel. Are you beginning to see why its also known as intuitive eating or ‘opposite of diets’?
Improve your Relationship with Food
Originally, food was meant to fuel your body, thus allowing you to lead a day full of energy and zest. However, over the past decades we’ve transformed food into a means to represent our state of mind and desires. This in turn gives rise to unconscious behaviors that hamper our health and well-being. Have you ever given thought to what emotional and physical cues drive you to pick your next meal option? Do you remember not being hungry, yet consuming an entire snack pack at times?
One of the core principles of mindful eating advocate is being aware of all six facets of food consumption, as depicted and explained by Michelle May, MD, Am I hungry. Most eating disorders and unhealthy patterns are a result of ‘unconscious behaviors’ around eating habits and choices repeated over a span of several years.
Mindfulness allows you to be aware of your choices and habits without judgement, thus helping you change your choices and behavior. Eat mindfully and start saying no to senseless fad diets and the practice of answering your emotions with food!
Weight Management made easier Mindful Eating!
This one’s easy – if you’re aware of what, when, how much, and where you’re eating, chances are that you will not pick the unhealthy stuff off the grocery store aisles and overeat even when you’re full. Mindfulness also enables you to eat slowly and consciously as you savor every morsel. This allows your body to notify you when satiety is reached, helping you avoid over-eating.
With mindfulness, you can tune into your body’s hunger-alerting system and food cravings. You would be aware of various reasons you eat for, even when you’re not really hungry. Furthermore, if you’re mindful you won’t necessarily reach out for that large tub of popcorn at the movies, like you’re used to. Same goes for that calorie-laden icecream just because you’re feeling the blues. Yay to recognizing emotional and non-hunger cues and eating only when we really need to!
Keep Chronic Diseases at bay
Evidence points that mindful eating can play a key role in preventing the onset and in some cases, even alleviating the existing conditions like cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, gastrointestinal problems, depression and cancer. Medical practitioners have used mindfulness with meditation to resolve depression, eating-related disorders and stress. In fact, mindfulness allows you to non-judgmentally observe your food triggers, enabling you to pick healthier foods with greater nutritional value. It also helps improve rate of digestion and efficient absorption of nutrients, keeping you healthier and happier.
Make mealtime fun!
One of Buddha’s popular sayings goes as “Happiness is a journey and not a destination” – simple yet poignant, ain’t it? Practicing mindfulness enables you to tune into the entire process of your daily meal preparation. You can truly enjoy the experience and savor your meal when you’re mindful about the time and effort you put in prepping the ingredients, cooking them and arranging the same on a plate.
To make it more fun, invite your family members or friends for a meal and cook together. Indeed, it could create fond memories to last a lifetime and strengthen bonds. Such a welcome contrast compared to when we cook and eat on auto-mode! 😊
Looking for some fun recipe ideas that encourage mindful eating?
- Easy Falafel Recipe | How to Make Perfect Crispy Falafel
- Shakshuka or poached eggs in tomato sauce | Egg Recipes
- One Pot Pasta with Chickpeas, Capers and Tomato SauceOne Pot Pasta with Chickpeas, Capers and Tomato Sauce
- Easy Healthy Wholewheat Ragi Banana Bread | Eggless, Vegan Banana Bread
Change your Perspective
Being aware of where your food came from, how much time it took you to prepare a meal, how you eat it and how you feel afterwards undoubtedly tunes your mind into being more observant. It also helps you feel thankful for every one who put forward their efforts to make it available to you in a timely manner. Expression of gratitude in this way can bring a positive shift in different areas of your life, not just eating!
Think you’re too busy to be mindful for every meal? Give it a try for 2 meals/ snacks a day and observe the changes it brings. You’ll probably start noticing the benefits and start paying attention to every food you eat.
Do share your thoughts and experiences with all of us here.