“Your body is precious. It is your vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care.” ~ Buddha
You are snuggled down in front of the TV with a huge bowl of microwave extra buttery popcorn. A short while later, with your eyes glued to the movie, you reach into the bowl to find nothing but a few unpopped kernels. Looking down in dismay you think, “Did I eat all that?”
Earlier in the day, you couldn’t remember if you had lunch or even breakfast. If you do remember eating, you don’t recall what you ate or how much.
We are so detached from our food that we can’t remember eating, much less remembering what we ate and how much.
We have become a culture of mindless eaters racing from place to place grabbing a bite along the way.
Yes, we may be choosing what we eat more carefully, but we pay little or no attention to how we eat.
This inattentiveness to how and when we eat could be just as detrimental to our health as what we eat.
There is a growing body of research, http://www.mindfuleatinghk.com/resources/research-articles, that suggests changing our practises and attitudes around meals and mealtime rituals may be helpful with weight loss, eating disorders, a variety of health issues and general good health.
The trend for changing our practises and attitudes toward food is called “Mindful Eating.”
Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD ( http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/030413p42.shtml) says, mindfulness continues to gain widespread support to promote health and wellness, and mindful eating is being used as a tool to improve eating behaviors, encourage weight control, prevent chronic disease, and foster a healthful relationship with food.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating has it’s roots in Buddhist teachings which aim to reconnect us more deeply with the experience of eating and enjoying our food.
The core principles of mindful eating as proposed by The Centre for Mindful Eating, www.tcme.com, are based on the idea that there is no right or wrong way to eat, but rather varying degrees of consciousness about what we are eating and why. The goal of mindful eating is to base our meals on physical cues, such as the bodies’ hunger signals, not emotional one like eating for comfort.
Here are a few tips to introduce mindfulness to your mealtimes.
Know your food
Mindful eating is about reestablishing your relationship to your food. Consider these questions when selecting food. Are you buying quantity or quality? Where does your food come from? Who grew it? How fresh is it? Once you begin to consider these questions you’ll start to gain a greater appreciation for your food and perhaps your shopping habits will change.
Set the scene
Setting the scene is a step many forget to take. This step prepares you for the actual eating and enjoying of the meal.
Take care to set the table in such a way that it is appealing to you. It doesn’t matter whether you have fine china or special cutlery, what matters is taking the time to create a special place to eat. You may also chose to add napkins, candles or flowers to add to the ambiance. Do whatever is going to make you relax and enjoy.
All electronic devices go to mute or off
Mindfulness means without distractions. This is your time to disconnect, relax and enjoy your meal. Put all your electronic devices on mute or off and in another room while you eat. If you can’t see it you won’t be tempted to peek. Out of sight out of mind.
Take the time to savor and enjoy your food. If you do you will chew more thus aiding digestion, you’ll notice different flavours or textures and you’re more likely to be aware when you are full.
A couple of ways to slow yourself down are to put your cutlery down between mouthfuls, try using chopsticks, and make sure each mouthful is well chewed before putting more in your mouth.
Ignite your senses
This tip is the ultimate of mindful eating, the most powerful way to eat. Every now and again take a raisin, a strawberry, a piece of cheese, or chocolate. Observe the appearance and texture. Notice the aroma. Pay attention to how your body reacts to these. Does it make your mouth water, do your feel anticipation or nothing?
Then place a small amount of the food in your mouth but, don’t chew it. Wait 30 seconds or more before you start chewing. Notice the difference in flavor and texture before and after you started chewing the food.
As you chew notice each burst of flavor. Take your time paying attention to each sensation as they appear.
This practise will give you a whole new appreciation for food.
Expressing gratitude brings you into the present moment, dispels negativity and reminds your to not take things for granted.
It is good to remember that this food gives you energy, vitality, makes you strong and healthy. Without nourishing food to eat our lives would be very different.
It also helps to be grateful to the earth and all the people who are involved in bring the food to you.
Mindful eating reconnects you with the food you eat thus letting it become your friend again. Here’s to reclaiming your health and vitality!