Mindful eating is about accepting your food as it is, without looking for perfection. It is about building a healthy relationship with what you eat. When we multitask while eating, we lose focus on our meal, and this can have a detrimental effect on our health. Mindless eating, as opposed to mindful eating, leads to obesity and other health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure and even cardiac problems. Driving, reading, being on the mobile or any other electronic device; all these distract us from the present moment, from being fully aware of what we are eating.
Mindful Eating Cycle from May’s book Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat.
Mindful eating is also about being fully involved in the entire process of eating: right from buying to preparing, serving, and consuming it.
A few day to day eating practices one can follow to learn and adopt mindfulness:
- Create your own shopping list:
To practise mindful eating, one must first stop impulse buying of food items. Instead, consider the nutritional and health value of every item that you put on your list and then into your shopping basket.
- Eat when you’re hungry, not famished:
Skipping meals is a good way of gaining weight, not losing it. If you eat when you’re ravenous, your priority will be to fill up the gnawing void in your stomach. And any notions of mindful eating will go out of the window.
- Portion Control:
If you have your meals in a large plate, the natural tendency would be to take large portions to fill it up. Try instead to serve yourself on a smaller plate. The result will be smaller portions, naturally!
- Small portions, small bites:
Large bites only look good in advertisements and films. In reality, shovelling food into your mouth will hinder your ability to taste it and even chew it well. How then will you appreciate what you’re eating? Slow down, take small bites- it will improve digestion as well.
- Savour your food:
Always be thankful to the person or persons who took the effort to bring food to your table. Gratitude adds flavour to the food, and you will enjoy it more.
- Eat with your eyes (also!):
Food videos and food magazines are universally popular because they grab eyeballs first. But to truly relish a meal is to involve all the senses. There’s texture, aroma, and taste in all that we eat. Smaller portions, small bites, chewing well allows us to focus on every tiny detail that makes up the meal. Result- mindful eating.
Remember, mindful eating is not dieting. It is a way of reconnecting with our senses and rediscovering the pleasure of eating- without pressure, anxiety, or stress. It also helps us understand why we eat the way we do. This in turn enables us to make better choices about our food and our health. And this approach can change our lives.