Mindful Eating Enhances the Entire Eating Experience
I want to talk with you about thinking about what and how you are eat. Mindful eating is an approach to eating that is based in the Buddhist meditation of Mindfulness. It has been utilized and achieved success for some who are challenged with obesity or eating disorders. It is also a wonderful technique for those who, like me, engage in emotional and external eating. Anxiety often triggers me to eat, even when I am not hunger. I am also triggered by the sight and smell of food. Recognizing this about myself aids me in resisting the temptation to overeat and encourages me to engage in some other activity. I am not one hundred percent effective at this, but I have made tremendous progress and it is evident in my feelings and my figure.
I realize that it is Thanksgiving week and many of you are not interested in talking about being mindful of what you eat when there is about to be mounds of food set before you. You are thinking about getting your turkey or ham and who is going to cook what. You’re probably doing your grocery, pulling out your recipes and creating your plan of action. Since Thanksgiving is a time when we concentrate so much on food, I think it is the perfect time to begin the process of thinking about eat food.
Mindful eating entails thinking about what you eat, where you eat, when you eat, why you eat and how you eat. It requires that we process every aspect of eating and that we eat with intention and purpose. Mindful eating has helped me to better appreciate my food, making my food more enjoyable and beneficial. There are steps to mindful eating that you can check out in the article referred to below. I take heed to those steps and in this article, I am going to tell you how I do it. No, I am not an expert and I may not follow these steps with every meal, but I am becoming more proficient.
I practice Intermittent Fasting (IF), so I rarely eat breakfast and my first meal is generally not before 11 a.m. I spend a portion of the morning thinking about what I am going to eat. I think about how I am going to prepare it and what ingredients and cooking method I am going to use. I envision myself putting it together and the pleasure I am going to experience preparing and eating it. I rarely eat food that is not prepared at home.
I place my prepared meal on a small plate. Dinner plates hold far more food than most of us require. Salads are usually served in a pasta bowl. I look at my plate for several minutes. I take in the colors, shapes, and textures. I note in my mind whether my plate has a variety of colors on it. That is a goal for me. I smell my food, even attempting to identify the spices and herbs used in preparation.
I am learning how to eat in a quiet place, free from distractions including television and other electronic devices. I always give thanks for my food, mindful of those who have nothing to eat and equally mindful of how much food is available to me and how easy it is for me to access. When I pray over my food, I ask God to bless those who have nothing to eat and to use me to feed them.
I chew my food slowly, attempting to savor every bite. Chewing slowly helps to prevent overeating by giving the brain time to realize that you are eating. Chewing quickly or gulping down food can cause overeating because by the time the brain signals that you are full you have already eaten too much. I eat until I am no longer hunger. I do not feel guilty if there is still food on my plate. I simply save it for a future meal.
When I finish eating, I think about how the food makes me feel. Did I enjoy the meal? Will I prepare this again? Was it satisfying? Do I feel energized or sleepy? I try to listen to my body’s response to the meal. I drink water afterwards. I say, “Thank you,” again to God.
That’s it. That’s how I practice mindful eating. It really helps me to eat intentionally and with purpose. It makes me mindful of the people involved in ensuring that my food is accessible and safe. It increases my desire to eat more “real” food and fewer processed items. I believe it increases my body’s ability to utilize food more effectively and efficiently. You should try it. Start with one meal and see how it works for you.