I would like to think I have a relatively healthy relationship with food. I eat vegan, local, whole and unprocessed. I eat when I’m hungry, and don’t when I’m not. But I have an issue with not paying attention while consuming the food I have thought so deeply about before purchasing. Perhaps it was years working double shifts as a server in incredibly fast paced restaurants that helped me form the habit of eating like a ravenous animal – shoving heaping servings of food into my mouth and hardly tasting the flavors before swallowing and going for another. Demure, I know. I have gotten better about this in the years I been out of the restaurant industry. However, I still find myself with empty plates, wondering where all the food has gone.
I have done a great deal of research about mindful eating lately, because it is something important to me that I feel is crucial in developing an overall healthy lifestyle. Please join me in my mission to live more mindfully!
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of being completely aware of your actions, thoughts, and feelings. We are all guilty of going through our days on autopilot, absorbed in our minds and letting our ego control our actions. Mindfulness steps away from all that and concentrates on only this moment.
Why Eat Mindfully?
You wont overeat– Watching television or working (playing) on the computer while eating is proven to cause you to consume more than you typically would if you were paying attention. Eating quickly also has the same effect, as it takes a bit for your stomach to send “full” signals to your brain. By the time you are done eating, the food hasn’t even properly settled in your stomach yet!
You will think about the origins of your food – Taking time out to mindfully consider what you are doing changes your perspective on a lot of things. If you mindfully wash the dishes, you will quickly find easier ways of doing things. If you mindfully go to a seedy bar on a Friday night, you begin to questions your intention of being there in the first place. When you mindfully eat, you start to think about what it is that your eating, and what that means to you and the rest of the world.
You wont get bloated/gassy/gross – If you chew your food thoroughly and completely, and take your time to swallow you will solve a lot of your digestion woes. Your saliva will help break down your food and lessen the work that your digestive system has to do. You will swallow less air which will result in less gassy unpleasantness.
You will enjoy your food so much more – I don’t know about you but I LOVE FOOD. I love exploring new flavors and dishes. When I stop to enjoy my food, and concentrate on it wholly and completely, I enjoy it tenfold. It is seriously almost orgasmic.
You will develop your palate – When you take the time out to notice flavors hidden in the depths of your food, you will be able to appreciate daring flavor combinations or even develop your own. You will start to appreciate subtle things about foods you never noticed.
How to eat mindfully
Prepare with love – If you are eating your food at home the best way to prepare yourself for mindful eating is to start with some mindful preparing. Devote a good chunk of time to concentrate and enjoy the process of cooking or preparing.
Turn off distractions – Will you really die without technology for an hour? Odds are, it will be good for you either way. Sit comfortably, just you and your food and maybe some good company – nothing else!
Eat healthy – Actually.. eat unhealthy. Mindful eating will quickly get you into the habit of eating nurturing foods.
Think about where your food came from – Before you start to munch, take a good look at your food. Where did it come from and how did it get to be in the form that it is at this moment? Did it come from a nearby farm or a greenhouse in South America? Do you think there are chemicals in your food? Do you know anything about the processing your food went through to get into the state it is in? Do you know what all of the ingredients are? If you are eating meat – did it suffer to get on your plate? Was it injected with hormones and antibiotics? All of these questions are very important. Food is what keeps us alive and healthy! It is the very essence of our being!
Take teeny tiny bites – Start with almost comically small bites. The longer it takes you to eat the better. At first this will be excruciating (“but there is soo much to do!”) but soon it will be incredibly enjoyable. Think about the entire process, from picking it up with your fork to the act of swallowing.
Have a mouth party – take note of the texture, taste and consistency of your food. Be mindful of these things, but don’t judge or develop opinions. Just love this moment!
Do you have any tips, tricks or interesting experiences with mindful eating?
Thanks for a great post. It took me years to break the reading-while-eating habit, but for me it was the key to mindful eating. I’d look up from my book to find an empty plate and like you, wonder where all the food had gone! Mindfulness while eating can be the first small step to being aware in other areas of our lives – so very worthwhile.
The Selfish Vegan says
Great post. For me, it was having little babies that were always in need of something that made me into a lightning-speed eater. I’m trying to work on it but it’s hard.