Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mindful (Not Mindless) Eating

What happened to meal time?  It’s so commonplace these days to grab a bite on the go as we are doing a dozen other things instead of sitting down to a well prepared meal with our families.  Or even worse yet, grazing all day long in lieu of any actual meal at all. In these situations we are not eating for enjoyment, or even nourishment necessarily, just because we are basically running on autopilot.  I know I am guilty of this.  So the question is not necessarily what happened to meal time, but how do we get it back?

Over the past year I have been on a journey incorporating mindfulness into various aspects of my life.  I started out with meditation, which was how I was introduced to the topic, then mindful driving, and most recently mindful parenting (I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about that yet).  But now for my next step in this mindful journey I am going to break the cycle of mindless eating, put the smart phone down, set the paper aside, and practice mindful eating.

Why eat mindfully?

Mindful eating is how food was meant to be consumed…by taking the time to appreciate it and enjoy it.  There are several ways in which mindful eating can benefit our health and wellbeing.  Mindful eating may improve digestion as we are taking smaller bites and thoroughly chewing our food making it easier to digest.  Eating slowly and taking small breaks as we eat gives our body a chance to signal when it is full which may decrease overeating and be beneficial in managing a healthy weight.  Using all of the senses (touch, sight, smell, taste, and possibly even sound) to “taste” our food provides us a greater, richer, experience that comes from fully appreciating every aspect of it.  As we take the time to do so, and slowly I might add, we receive a well-deserved mental break as well from our otherwise hectic and fast paced lives. 

How to eat mindfully?

It all starts before you even sit down to the table.  Making an effort to learn more about the ingredients you choose, where they come from and the nutrients they contain will bolster your appreciation for them.  Put all distractions aside, mindfulness is about being present in the moment.  Once you have prepared your meal (or plated your take out at least!) sit down to eat it at the table, regardless of whether you are alone or with friends and family.  This is a great time to practice a moment of gratitude!

Take a moment to look at the food in front of you and appreciate the meal that you are about to consume, that will provide satiety and nourishment, as a whole.   As I mentioned previously…while eating “taste” the foods with all of your senses.  Take note of and appreciate its beauty, aroma, flavors, and textures.  Take small bites, chew each one thoroughly, and set your utensils down in between bites.  This will allow you to pay attention and focus on the sensations of each bite.  Be in tune with your body and its cues that you are full, notice them and use them as a sign to stop eating.

DISCLAIMER: The content on this blog,, represents the thoughts, ideas, and experiences of its author and should be taken as such…with a grain of salt.  It is for entertainment purposes only and not intended to prevent, diagnose, or cure.  Before trying any new physical activity, dietary plan, supplementation, complementary and alternative therapy, or other wellness tip please seek the guidance of a qualified professional.

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