I want to talk a little bit about mindfulness in relation to our eating.
It’s not just what we eat, that is actually only 20% of the equation. How, when, where and why are the other 80% that greatly impacts our health. Eating is a sacred practice, an act of nourishment and self love.
However, for many this isn’t always the case. Our relationship with food is lifelong and bringing awareness to this relationship will without a doubt impact your well-being in a positive way.
I want to first point out that mindful eating has nothing to do with dieting. It is simply the act of eating with purpose, gratitude and appreciation. It is a way to do away with the “eat on the run” mentality that is all too common. These days, I believe our modern lifestyle is a huge contributing factor and eating mindlessly and emotionlessly is no way to live, let alone a healthy way to eat.
I have to say that, before my training, I too fell into the category of mindlessly eating. Not fully engaging in the experience and allowing my body to assimilate the foods I was eating properly. Not paying attention, often multi-tasking while eating (or should I say inhaling?). Not noticing what emotional state we are in when we eat.
Once I started paying more attention and being more mindful when I ate...wow, did I notice a difference!
Whether to relieve stress, feed cravings, avoid socializing or whatever it is, it all comes down to us not paying attention to how we eat or the emotional triggers. Are we actually hungry when we go to grab a snack? So often we forgo mindfulness when it comes to our eating.
Learn to pay attention. When you first feel like eating, first identify the reason. Are you hungry or is it an emotional void that is playing the role of hunger? Then ask check in and ask yourself if these are good choices for you? Is this food going to give you energy or take it away? Is this food in alignment with a goal you are working to achieve?
According to the Mayo Clinic, using the HALT helps with mindful eating.
This is a quick way to check in and see if you are eating based on emotional needs or physiological needs. Mindfulness comes into play when we do not realize we are eating despite not being hungry. Mindfulness also comes into play when we continue to eat after we are full. Sometimes to the point of discomfort or where you may just feel like unbuttoning your pants. Have you ever felt this way? I know I have!
Pause for a moment. Take a moment to pause before you actually start eating. Choose to consciously consume and be grateful. Take in your surroundings, the company you are in, how lucky you are to be be there.
What are your triggers? I don’t have to tell you it’s easy to overindulge when you are surrounded by your trigger food. There are just some foods that you might not be able to eat mindfully. Pair that temptation with emotional situations(family stress, a fight with your spouse, whatever it is) and you have the perfect combination of feeling like absolute shit after your meal and in the days following.
CHEW! Take a bite and savor it. Have you ever heard of the rule of chewing your food 30 times and then swallowing it? Have you ever tried it? The "Chewing Game", as I like to call it, has been known to pop up at our dinner table. I love introducing my kids to these practices early on in their lives. There is a lot to be said for this technique. It definitely forces you to slow down. Now I am not saying that I count to 30 every time, but when I am aware, tuned in and slow down, my body signals satiation much quicker.
Put technology down and engage in those around you. Have you ever noticed you can eat twice as many pita chips when you are sitting in front of the TV, your computer screen or scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feed? And then before you know it you have mindlessly consumed probably three times the amount that would suffice! In a world in which we are inundated with technology, eating is actually one of the few places where we can take a break from it all. This is an area that I am not always good at, but I am working on it. Put away your phone, have a conversation with those around you or, if by yourself, take it all in.
Engage in eating. Become more present, conscious and grateful for all that you have. Engage in life.
I would love to hear about what practices you have implemented to become more mindful around food.