5 Ways to Try Mindful Eating
“Eat with the intention of caring for yourself” – Michelle May, amihungry.com
Who is speaking?
Last week I got a wake-up call… I consider myself a bit of a foodie, a healthy eater and aware of my mind state, but the business of life can take over and I noticed how absent-mindedly I’d been eating – automatically chewing my lunch, totally unaware of how it tasted or its nourishment for my body, but simply out of habit.
I suddenly realised how many times I’ve sat at my desk, eating on autopilot with the mindless munch of an unfulfilling store-bought sandwich whilst responding to emails or browsing the news; only to leave me feeling unsatisfied and not rested either. I had lost sight of eating as a process of nourishment and caring for oneself.
I am sure you have all heard of mindfulness, but have you heard of the idea of “mindful eating”? – Eating with attention and intention.
Food is nourishment for our body and depending on how we approach it, the experience can nourish on other levels too. I’ve been trying out these tips to honour my hunger and eat for fulfilment, it takes practice, definitely and I hope you can learn from them too.
Eat with Attention & an Intention to Satisfy and nourish
The more intuitive you became with your own body, the more you will hear its cues.
When you eat your next meal, listen to your body: stop what you’re doing and really acknowledge the food in front of you. Is it what your body truly wants? Are they the right foods? Do you crave some fruit or salad to give you those micronutrients, or some protein? With practice, you will start to hear the answers.
Slow it Down
With hectic schedules, we can rush our food and forget to savour the flavours. Food is prepared to be enjoyed and honoured; cherish the time and make it count. Take your time, chew deliberately and properly… this is where digestion starts. Appreciate the recipe, the cook, the colours and the presentation of your food. Simply acknowledge the fact you are giving your body what it needs and that this time is yours to enjoy alone or with friends and family.
Acknowledge Your Level of Hunger
Did you know that being ravenous is said to be the biggest cause of overeating? Even as you read this, think about the level of your hunger from 1-10. (1 being ravenous and 10 being completely stuffed). Try to fall within 3-8 when eating and continue to gauge this throughout your meal. Remember, if you eat more slowly this will help you to notice when you hunger has been satisfied.
Taste Your Food
It sounds ridiculous, but if we’re eating out of impulse, we often don’t. When you taste your food, really taste it; how do the textures and flavours combine? Do they work together? A few days ago I had a sudden urge for something sweet; I indulged in my favourite chocolate: Milk chocolate with whole hazelnuts. I took a small piece, savoured the flavour, the sweetness as it melted, the crunch of the toasted hazelnuts and I found it delicious, but because I took my time, that was enough. I didn’t need to devour a whole bar. I really observed my body’s signals and it helped me to know when to stop.
These questions are good to ask before and during eating, it will help you consciously think about what you’re doing and also engage with your body’s responses.
- Why am I eating? Out of boredom, for emotion, for impulse or because of physical hunger?
- Will the food I’m buying or preparing nourish me as my body needs?
- Is this what I truly want to eat? What is my body craving?
It’s still something that takes practice – and I’ll admit I’m still learning! But mindful eating puts you first and food second, to cherish meal time and be present and conscious with thoughts and food for a healthy mind and body.
Give It a Try On Your Next Lunch Break and Tell Us What You Find
Further reading: Intuitive Eating – Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch