So much of eating, is about HOW we eat and not WHAT we eat.
So how do you eat? Many of us are guilty of throwing back our food without focussing on what we are actually doing; eating! We eat fast. Oftentimes we hungrily tuck into a large plate of food only to find ourselves staring at an empty plate, minutes later, our bodies still craving more. Besides eating quickly, while we eat we often need something to do. As if the single act of eating isn’t entertaining enough, we check Twitter, text messages, read the back of cereal boxes, flip through magazines or gaze at coffee-stained newspapers.
However, when we eat quickly, we find that we don’t concentrate on the experience of eating. We let the act pass us by, which can result in decreased feelings of satiety and satisfaction after a meal. Also, in many cases, it results in us eating more than our fill. Eating quickly and “mindlessly” can be attributed to the high rates of irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies and obesity that we see in our population.
One of the best pieces of nutritional advice I’ve received is, rather than focusing on what to eat, we should be focusing on how to eat.
Here are some tips on how to integrate mindfulness into your eating practice.
Mindful eating is about establishing a connection with food – the act of growing, preparing and mindfully eating the food we ingest every day – to increase the connection we have to our own bodies. It helps us experience the act of eating, become more aware of what and how much we put into our bodies, and cultivating satisfaction and appreciation for the food we eat.
Here are some tips to get started:
1. Make each meal a real meal.
Rather than eating on the run, straight out of the bag/box or standing up, set out a place-mat (even if you’re alone) and utensils, dole out a portion of food on a plate and sit down to enjoy it.
2. Focus on each bite.
Please aim to chew each mouthful a minimum of 20 times. A huge component of digestion occurs in the mouth.
3. Make space to eat.
Before you sit down at the table, take a few deep breaths and try to remain aware of hunger cues, stopping when you feel satisfied.
4. Start each meal with gratitude.
Silently saying thank you before chowing down is enough to set the tone for the meal. Taking time to appreciate the food on our plates is an important step in cultivating bodily awareness.
Ask yourself, am I hungry? So often we can mistake thirst for hunger, so always ensure you stay well hydrated, but over the holidays, we also rarely consider our hunger cues when we’re faced with opportunities to indulge on the endless food presented at social functions.
6. Lose The Guilt
It's important to enjoy this time and the opportunity to share meals with family and friends. So enjoy that glass of wine, and maintain that balance filling your plate with nutritious whole foods, healthy fats and proteins where ever possible.