How to practice mindful eating

There’s that word you’ve seen time and time again on the cover of magazines and in the headings of your favorite articles: mindful.

But what does it mean exactly?

mind·ful·ness

/ˈmīn(d)f(ə)lnəs/

noun

1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”

2. 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.

Mindfulness can be achieved when we make an effort to step into the present moment. So how do you put it into practice come mealtime?

1. Chew your food more slowly. Our body’s physical response to hunger is salivation which triggers hormonal responses essential for proper digestion. In order to breakdown the food we eat and absorb its nutrients many process need to take place within the mouth, throat, and GI tract.

When we eat quickly we tend to overeat because our brain doesn’t have time to tell our bodies that we are satiated.

2. Put down the phone, stowaway the children’s tablets, and shut off the T.V. Seriously, give electronics a rest during mealtimes. It will bring you in to the present moment. Eating in front of the television has been shown to be a contributing factor to obesity. Many studies have revealed that we overeat when we watch television. Developing a habit of eating while zoned out on our phones is not good for our overall health or conducive to satisfying meals.

When we disassociate from our external environment while eating through the use of electronics we aren’t fully present in our bodies and can’t appreciate the food in front of us. We also tend to reach for less nutritious and more processed food products when we aren’t fully present during mealtimes.

The goal of any meal is to consciously nourish ourselves, not just thoughtlessly transport food to our mouths as we engage with a television show or send a work email.

3. Appreciate the process that your food went through to get to your table. Read the nutrition labels of your food, know what you’re putting in your body and why. Think about all the ways that what your eating is benefitting your body. Hold it in your hands or fingers, smell it, and enjoy the incredible flavors that it has to offer!

I know this seems far out— but it’s OKAY to enjoy the food you eat and make it known. Close your eyes while you taste the first bite of your favorite dishes. Tell the people around you what you notice about the meal. Appreciate the sustenance it provides you with.

Be well,

Kristen

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