What is mindful eating?
Mindfulness is a concept with its roots in ancient Buddhist teachings: a call to be more attuned to our experiences and environment. Today, this effective mind training approach is used by reputable institutions around the world to treat chronic pain and decrease stress and anxiety. In the last decade, there has been a huge upsurge of research into how mindfulness can support healthier eating practices. The Center for Mindful Eating, in the US, defines mindful eating as:
• Chose to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body.
• Accept individual likes and dislikes without judgment.
• Awareness of hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to eat and finish eating.
3 mindful eating techniques
1. Turn off your autopilot
By shifting out of ‘autopilot mode’, it’s easier to create a positive atmosphere around food as you’re preparing it. When you’re cooking, ask yourself: ‘Have I created a positive environment for myself as I prepare this meal?’ You might like to turn the TV off or put on some music you love. Got hordes of hungry kids? You never know, they might be quite happy to bring out their inner MasterChef and become your junior chefs!
2. Give eating your full attention
How often do we eat in front of TV or eat at our desks? Multitasking eating with other activities isn’t helpful for your health and wellness goals. Eating while distracted often leads to eating more than your body needs because you don’t notice your satiety cues. It can also result in eating too quickly which can upset digestion and increase the amount you consume before your satiety signals are triggered. So slow down, enjoy your surroundings and put aside past or future worries, if only for now. Give eating 100 percent of your attention.
3. Bring your senses to the table
Have you ever eaten an entire plate of food and failed to notice a single flavour or texture? Bringing all your senses to the table is the key to conscious eating. So, take the time to breathe in the aroma of the garlic sizzling in the pan. Experience the texture of the cereal on your tongue, the cool feeling of the freshly squeezed juice as you sip it, and marvel at the colours and layout of the different foods on your plate. Truly savour your meal using each of your senses.
By eating with intention and attention – the intention of caring for yourself and the attention necessary for noticing and enjoying your food and its effects on your body – you’ll improve the experience of eating both physiologically and physically. And this results in increased self-awareness, reduced overeating, and may improve digestion and absorption of nutrients. So, start experiencing joy from tasting and savouring every bite!