Have you ever heard of mindful eating? Or eating with intention? If you have, have you actually put it to practice for an extended period of time?
Believe it or not, just like meditation or exercise, it takes work! But if you have tried it, you very well may have noticed all the wonderful benefits that come with mindful eating such as:
- Complete digestion
- A sense of well being and ease
- Increased vitality
- Feeling satiated
- Better poop (yes, #2)
- (just to name a few)
I wanted to write about this in particular because just like with exercise or other “seemingly” important things that we know we should be doing, mindful eating seems to be last on the priority list. And what better time to put this into practice now that the 4th of July and all of it’s bbq’ing festivities are complete?
To start, as with anything, we need a current understanding of what we are doing today as it relates to what we desire to change. So ask yourself a few questions to start:
- What are you doing when you eat a meal?
- How do you feel right after a meal? 1 hour after a meal?
- If you prepared your own food what was the step by step process you took in order to eat your meal?
You may notice a sense of awareness and connection beginning to occur already as you take inventory of how, with whom, what, where, and why you eat your food.
Remember, no judgement, just awareness.
The point of this exercise above is to better understand where you can make small changes to set the intention of mindful eating.
Whether you tend to buy prepared food, eat alone, watch TV, or come from a family of fast eaters there are a few solid steps you can take to incorporate mindful eating:
- If you’re preparing your own food take the time to study your subject. Yes, look at every detail of the asparagus and it’s tiny intricate details! If you’re adding grapefruit to your salad try scraping a tiny piece of the skin and taking in the sweet and tangy fragrance it offers. Just by doing this you are already in the now and honoring what will soon be consumed.
- If you bought a prepared meal take the time to thank the food and all the ways it got to be where it is today. From the sun, soil, worms, the farmers, and yes, even the people who prepared it. Without any of these elements this delicious meal wouldn’t have been possible! By doing this you may notice a sense of ease and gratitude, simply by taking the time to notice the miracles that occur on a minute by minute basis.
- As you begin to eat really take a look at what’s on your fork or spoon and notice every single detail of the food in front of you. You’ll notice things I bet you haven’t seen in years, for some, the first time in their lives. As you look at every detail on your fork you may notice the thought, “wow, I’m not actually thinking about anything else”. Yes, that’s right. Continue to practice this art of noticing your food before each bite. An added side benefit of this art is that every single bite will taste that much better because your senses are now engaged with the food and not the distraction!
- Don’t just swallow, chew! There’s something beautiful that happens when you really chew. First, it’s the body’s process of starting the digestion process. Your saliva acts as the break down agent for the food that will travel down to your stomach and intestines, so why not give it a kick start? Instead of having bigger pieces of food for your body to break down, really chew and mindfully notice the food as it breaks down in your mouth. Again, you may notice just how good food tastes and just how good you will feel not only physically, but m mentally as well.
- Last but not least, end your mindful eating by giving thanks and staring at your bowl or plate with appreciation for what was in front of you. Rather than rushing off to the next thing, give yourself a minute or two to really take in the moment. Honor the time you gave to yourself and the food that is now in your body.
I hope you enjoyed these simple, yet powerful tips that work for me personally. During the transition between San Francisco and Seattle it was a hectic time, but when I needed it most mindful eating was the peace and solace I needed to ground myself and step into gratitude. As you can see, truly the benefits are endless!