Image: freedigitalphotos luigi diamanti
Eating is one the most basic things that humans do. We do it several times a day and it can become a side issue and even an annoyance that we have to spend so much time on it. This is unfortunate as eating is one of the most pleasurable activities we do and focusing on a few small things can increase the satisfaction and fulfillment we get from it. More satisfaction means less overeating and being much more content with the food you eat.
The approach I will be talking about is known as eating mindfully. Mindfulness is a common term used in regards to meditation. In the most basic sense it means thinking about what you are doing when you are doing it. For food, this means paying attention to your meal and not being distracted by the endless distractions present in the modern day. It is used as opposed to mindlessness, where you are eating without thought of the food and sometimes not even remembering eating.
Eating without thinking means that our body’s natural cues for hunger and satisfaction often don’t work properly. There are physical elements to food, if your stomach is filled you will not feel as hungry, but there are also very strong mental elements to satiation. The way you eat your food has a big impact on how your body responds to it.
How to eat mindlessly
Most of us eat meals on the go, in front of the TV, in the car or whilst using the computer. This means that we are not present with the food we are eating. Human brains cannot multitask effectively. When we are eating whilst doing something else, we are not enjoying the true experience of eating. Even without distractions we can still be eating mindlessly if we are not making the conscious effort to connect with the food.
How to eat mindfully
The best way to start eating mindfully is to make the conscious decision to be present when you eat.
Try implementing these steps below to enjoy your food more:
These tips will help you to develop a mindful approach to eating. This won’t be developed overnight but if you make the commitment to think about your food, you will enjoy it much more!
Not only do we generally eat mindlessly, we do the same with drinking. We go and buy a $5 coffee and drink it on the way driving to work or sitting in front of the computer. Try once a day to take 5 minutes of your day to just sit down with your coffee or tea and drink it without doing anything else. Enjoy the drink and really savor it, smell it and taste it and make it worth the $5! This can even extend to alcohol and would likely go a long way in reducing how much you drink in a night.
Thinking about eating also extends to the preparation of the meal. When you are preparing food think about what you are preparing and the privileged position you are in to be able to eat such good food. Try out cooking different meals each week and learn to enjoy cooking rather than seeing it as a chore. Cooking also prepares us for the meal ahead and makes the enjoyment of the food even greater when we can finally eat it. I know some of the most satisfying meals I have had are after smelling a lamb leg cooking over several hours and finally being able to eat it. Preparing your food mindfully also means that the food will taste better as much more effort has been put into it!
A note on mindful junk food
Most of us have a vague understanding of what foods are good and bad for us. We know that eating too much processed food is not great for our health. This can cause us to have a guilty association with junk food and means we don’t enjoy this junk food as much as we could. If you are going to eat some junk food remember to eat it mindfully. If you are going to eat some junk food, savor the flavor as much as you can and don’t feel guilty about it. This will help you to stop eating more of it, be satisfied with smaller amounts of it and move on with eating healthier food options. Guilt is a wasted emotion!
Start off small, eat just one meal whether it be breakfast or dinner in a completely mindful way. Over time you can try to incorporate this way of eating into your other meals. For many, this will be dinner as the other meals are done by time constraints for many people. Keep in mind the tips above and try to incorporate the ones that you can, when you can. You can’t be perfect with it all the time but perfection is not the point. The underlying message is to think about what you eat, enjoy what you eat and develop a healthier association with food as a result
How often do you get to sit down and enjoy a meal?