Updated: Oct 11, 2021
It sounds simple, but bringing your mind to focus on your food and taking each bite can have lasting benefits on your physical and mental health.
Maybe you're wondering what "mindful eating" even means. Mindful eating is far from a new concept, but it's one that we often bypass. It's the idea of bringing your attention, your awareness to the task at hand: eating....why we eat, where our food comes from, creating an actual experience, slowing down, and listening to our bodies, . As our world gets busier, it becomes more and more important to allow ourselves to enjoy what we are doing in the "now".
1. Think about Why We Eat.
Food is fuel. What we feed our bodies is going to result in how we feel throughout the day. So ask yourself "Why am I eating this?" and "What is this food doing for me?". We can also think about how the nutrients started in the soil, to the plant or animal (or both), and the work it took to get to our forks. It's quite amazing to think about the food we are able to consume on a consistent basis. Allowing yourself to sit with this gratitude can increase your ability to eat mindfully and have a more enjoyable eating experience.
“Food reveals our connection with the Earth. Each bite contains the life of the sun and the earth...we can see and taste the whole universe in a piece of bread! Contemplating our food for a few seconds before eating, and eating in mindfulness, can bring us such happiness.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
2. Create the space for mindful eating
We are creatures of habit. When you have a space that you sit down and eat, such as a dining room table, it allows you to sit down and your mind automatically registers "Okay, we're eating now." This place should make you feel comfortable and be free from external distractions such as a television or work. If there are more people than yourself, ask them to sit and eat with you. Try to spend as much time mindfully eating and talking about the food on the table before getting caught up in conversations about the work day or future plans.
3. Shut off distractions
As hard as it may be, try sitting through your next meal without a phone or a tv. So often we can find ourselves scrolling through Instagram or turning on a TV show and not even realizing what or how much we are eating. When we do this, we are dividing our attention and typically forgetting about the food we have.
4. Slow down & bring your mind to the flavors, the textures, the smells.
More often than not, we rush through our meals to rush off to the next thing, or, because we are so hungry, we must eat it all now. This leaves us feeling bloated and missing out on everything our food has to offer us. To help keep your mind present and involved in your eating experience, try focusing on the flavors, the textures, the aromas, and the sensations the food is bringing to your body. Is it salty? Crunchy? Chewy? Savory?
If we are willing, we can create an actual experience that is to be enjoyed through eating - nourishing the body, the mind, and the soul.
5. Listen to your body.
Our bodies have developed hunger signals and feelings to tell us when we need to eat, when we are full, whether a food is good for us or not...and we have to be willing to listen to what our bodies need. It can be hard to hear over all the noise in your life, but once you start listening, you'll familiarize yourself with your body. Plus you'll strengthen your connection with yourself and your body. This allows you to cultivate inner wisdom, avoid over eating, and focus on the things that your body needs.
“Mindful eating is a way to become reacquainted with our internal nutritionist.”
-Jan Chozen Bays
Eating is a universal commonality that none of us could survive without. However, we often get rushed away into "busy" mode and forget to stop and slow down to enjoy this life we are living. As simple as it may seem, mindful eating can shift your relationship with food and allow you to be present and savor the food that you are consuming every day.