How to Master the Art of Mindful Eating
-Reduced over eating. It’s been a while now since I went to bed feeling bloated and over stuffed. Which is great in itself but also means that my ‘muffin top’ is pretty much gone when I wear my favorite jeans.
-Increased enjoyment of food. As a food scientist, I’ve always considered myself a big fan of eating. Now that I’m on the path to mastering the art of mindful eating, I am finding a new found respect for food and am gaining far more pleasure from meal times.
-Improved digestion. Digestion begins in the mouth with the action of saliva. If food isn’t chewed properly it means that there’s more work for the rest of your digestion system. I may be imagining this, but I think I’ve also noticed I have less gas now that I’m eating mindfully.
-Being satisfied with less. Linked with reduced over eating, the real benefit here is being able to trust yourself to feel satisfied after one or two squares of chocolate so there is no temptation to scoff the whole block. Suddenly there’s no need to deny yourself the occasional treat which makes for a far healthier relationship with food.
Ready to change the way you interact with food?
-How to master the art of mindful eating:
1. Start small. Like all new habits, it’s best to set realistic expectations. Choose one meal or snack each day and commit to focusing on mindful eating at that time.
2. Stop multitasking at meal times. It’s really difficult to focus on eating if you’re doing other things. Set aside time for eating without other entertainment.
3. Only eat at the table. Another way to minimize mindless munching is to get into the habit of only eating when you are sitting down and able to give the food your full attention. No more snacking on the run.
4. Appreciate the appearance. While we’ve all drooled over gorgeous food porn in magazines or online, sometimes we forget about the beauty of the food we are about to eat. Taking the time to notice sets the scene for mindful eating.
5. Focus on each mouthful. Think about the flavour, texture and even the sound of the food in your mouth. Focus on how much you like, or dislike these sensations.
6. Chew. While it can be overkill to go to the monastic extreme of 100 bites per mouthful, make sure you chew your food enough so that it is well broken down before you swallow.
7.Use cutlery and put it down between mouthfuls. It’s much easier to take smaller portions when using a knife and fork. Of course if you feel like you’re having a ridiculous Seinfeld moment eating a chocolate bar with utensils, then skip this step but do put the bar down in between bites so you can focus.
8. Talk and share. One of the joys of eating is sharing a meal with loved ones. It can be challenging to incorporate mindfulness in a social situation but not impossible. Turn the focus of the conversation onto the meal while you are actually eating. Share what you are experiencing in terms of flavours and textures, likes and dislikes. At first this may seem a little weird but trust me, you’ll soon find yourself having fun with it.
9. Go for quality not quantity. By choosing smaller amounts of the best food you can afford, you will not only enjoy it more, you’re far more likely to be satisfied without having to over eat.
10. Make time to prepare your own meals, preferably from fresh ingredients. The cooking process can be as relaxing and enjoyable as eating if you let it. For me, the peace of mind that comes from knowing exactly what has gone into my food makes any hassle worthwhile.