Let’s talk about being mindful while we eat. First what is mindfulness? The act of being mindful is defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. So being present in the moment we are in, giving it our full attention.
What does this have to do with eating, you ask? If you are not paying attention to what you are actually putting into your mouth it can often feel like you haven’t eaten and it can be difficult to recognize when you are full. More importantly you miss out on the joy of eating. Food is wonderful, delicious, and nourishes our bodies so we can live incredible lives. I don’t know about you but I want to give that my full attention. When you sit down to eat take the time to appreciate what you are about to eat. Put away your phone. When you eat pay attention to the smells, the textures, the tastes, how what you’re drinking enhances or detracts from the flavors of the food, how the food makes you feel. This will not add any time to how long it takes you to eat, unless you tend to rush through meals “just to get them over with” or “I’m just a fast eater”. In those cases it will slow you down and that is a good thing. The slower pace will give your body time to tell your brain when you are full, so you can stop eating before you feel like you’re going to explode. Giving your meals this kind of attention will most likely also help you to make healthier choices.
How do you feel after you eat? Do you feel happy and fueled and ready to take on the next few hours? Or do you feel hungover, grumpy and or maybe even a little “high” which you know will be followed by a crash? Do you crave sugar and carbs? This is the next part of eating with mindfulness. Paying attention to how you feel after you have eaten. How did that meal affect you? How did it make you feel? Were you hungry again within a short period of time or were you satiated for hours?
The next step is mindfulness with your food choices. Change is hard. I get it. I’ve been there. Denial is not just a river in Egypt. Being mindful of the kinds of foods you choose to fuel your body with is a big step towards overall health, wellness, and fitness. The less processed food is the better. If it comes in a box with a list of ingredients it should be avoided. Eat real foods and your body will be nourished and happy. Over time you will crave fewer and fewer sweets and processed carbs and you will crave whole foods instead. It is also a lovely surprise that the less sugar you eat the less it takes to make you happy.
Paying attention is an important part of life. Being in the moment and really enjoying the food we eat is a gift that we ignore far too often. Be mindful of what you chose, why you chose it, and how you eat it.