Why Eating Mindfully is So Powerful
Have you ever eaten with someone who is slow and deliberate while eating? They savor every bite. They may even close their eyes in a form of quiet reflection while eating.
Chances are they are doing what is called “mindful eating.” Simply put, mindful eating is consciously paying attention to every bite that goes into your mouth. Instead of eating mindlessly, stuffing bite after bite of food into your mouth in a robotic way, you notice every flavor, texture and sensation from your meal.
Rather than not really tasting the food, you are appreciating the gift of what the food is doing for you.
Mindful eating is not always done in a slow fashion, but one thing that is certain, when you mindfully eat you become fully aware of the positive and nurturing benefits of the food. You respect the many hands that went into the growth, cultivating and preparation of your meal.
This method allows us to be more fully aware of when we are actually hungry or if we are eating simply to fill a void.
Think about the best meal you ever had. You likely remember more about it than just the food. What made that meal special or has made other memorable meals special for you? Almost everyone I have asked this question of replied that it was a meal eaten with loved ones or good friends, either home-cooked or at a special place. Not one person has mentioned calorie count, that they checked labels, or that they regretted that the food they ate was “bad” for them.
A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.
It also allows you to be fully present for the gift of your meal. You show deep respect and appreciation for your bounty. To some, this may seem a little bizarre, but to those who are living a conscious life, mindful eating makes perfect sense.
If you have ever tried to communicate with someone who was checking their email, taking phone calls, or staring out the window, it probably hurt your feelings and made you feel taken for granted. Treating your food this way by not being mentally present, or mindful, while you eat can hurt your body, just as lack of attentiveness can destroy a relationship.
In addition, lack of attention to the process of eating is a major contributor to weight gain, indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome.
Eating with distractions makes you eat faster, snack more, and disconnect from feeling full. You don’t even remember what you have eaten throughout the day, known as “eating amnesia,” which can result in eating a big meal not long after having already eaten one, or unconsciously snacking for hours on end.
Weight Loss Through Mindful Eating
Twenty-four clinical studies performed by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that “attentive eating is likely to influence food intake, and incorporation of attentive-eating principles into interventions provides a novel approach to aid weight loss and maintenance without the need for conscious calorie counting.”
Turn Things Around
Anyone can become a mindful eater. However, it does take the willingness to move in the space of awareness. It’s very simple, although not always easy. Especially if you have decades of practice eating on the run, in a hurry and without giving much thought to what you are putting in your mouth.
A few simple steps will go a long way in changing your relationship with food, thus changing your relationship with your health.
Stop grabbing and gobbling meals on the go and eating in your car. Stop eating out of the refrigerator and grabbing food out of a box in your cupboard. Stop standing in the kitchen eating over the counter or eating in front of the TV. Put your food on a plate and take your plate to the table and sit down.
Make your meals intentional. If you are too busy to stop eating on the run, then you are too busy! Make the time to stop and sit when you eat. This is easier for small families to do than large ones, yet it is a goal to strive for. Foster peace and calm in your home before and during meals. Watching the chaos and stress on the TV news while eating is really bad for your digestion!
As with most things I recommend, I suggest you try mindful eating for a period of 30 days. You will be amazed at what will change by simply changing your focus on the way you eat. I would love to hear your results after the 30 days. Feel free to reach out.