Harvard states that “meditation steadies the mind so we can see with greater clarity how things actually are.” Wow; sign me up! Mindfulness, a form of meditation, is the practice of bringing more focus and attention to a particular activity, behavior, thought or emotion. Since eating is an activity, enter: Mindful Eating. With multiple times a day set aside for eating, what better opportunity to gain more clarity?
So, at your next meal, snack, or even coffee break, take a moment to be mindful. Rather than eating or drinking while driving, in front of a TV, computer or phone, or while working – all promoting mindless eating – keep these tips in mind, literally and figuratively:
Engage all your senses.
What food options are most visually appealing? What colors are catching your eye? What sounds and smells are most enticing? Once you’ve made your choice, keep going. What textures do you feel? What are the most predominant flavors? Better yet, what are the subtle ones? Envelope yourself with every bite. Savor.
Enjoy the experience.
No matter what it is: warm jasmine tea on a cool morning, energizing overnight oats with tart flavor-bursting berries, a salad packed with crisp, colorful, farm-fresh produce topped with satisfying seeds, or freshly-fried, golden brown, crunchy on the outside, smooth potato on the inside French fries, enjoy the experience of eating – fueling your body with energy to sustain all you need to do in a day. Give gratitude.
Give every bite the same time, focus, and attention. If you find yourself getting distracted or your focus moving away from your meal, that’s okay (and completely normal). Just allow yourself to re-focus. Come back to the bite.
Listen to your body; stay satisfied.
What signal is your body giving you? Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Are you already over-full? Pay attention to the cues and physiological signals your body provides… and honor to them. Mindful eating helps you be more in tune with these cues and signals. The most important of which is learning to feel when you are satisfied, or satiated. This is one of the biggest benefits of mindful eating. Once you learn your stomach’s satiety signals (no longer starving, but not yet stuffed, just right – satisfied), you can learn your perfect portions. Mindless eating promotes eating whatever is in front of you, even if you’re satisfied. Mindful eating helps you find the balance at mealtimes; so, no matter what you’re eating, it’s just enough.
Start practicing today.
Use all five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and of course, taste. Focus on every aspect of the foods you choose, from plate to palate. Stay connected to every bite. If your mind drifts to other thoughts, re-focus back to the bite. When your stomach tells you it’s satisfied, enjoy the last bite.
Remember, mindful eating is about bringing more focus and attention to the foods and drinks you consume, no matter what they are. Remove all judgement and guilt from the thoughts in your mind and return your focus and attention to what you’re actually eating. Give yourself permission to enjoy each bite and connect with your food on a deeper level.