The Benefits of Mindful Eating
Since the average person spends approximately 38,003 hours eating over their lifetime taking the time to slow down, truly enjoying your food and appreciating the journey your food takes before making it to your plate can go a long way to helping make healthy changes to your eating habits.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is eating with intention and attention. There is a famous exercise of putting a raisin on your tongue to see how long you can hold it there without chewing or swallowing it. Instead simply focus all of your attention on how it tastes and what the texture feels like. Give it a try and see how long you can last. It’s a good way to start practicing mindfulness while eating.
We’ve all eaten mindlessly. And most often it is when we are engrossed in something else. Think of the last time you sat on the couch watching a movie while polishing off a bag of popcorn. When you aren’t mindful you are missing the full sensory pleasure of food and the enjoyment it brings.
Food tastes better when you don’t eat quickly. Your taste buds have a chance to really experience the food. When my 3 children were young, I used to inhale my meals. Mealtime was so rushed and I felt if I didn’t eat fast I wouldn’t have time to eat. If I could re-write that part of my life I would. It wasn’t good for my health, my weight or my children. They are fully grown now and as I still remind them to slow down they tell me I’m a hypocrite and remind me of how I used to eat. I have slowed down considerably and find I enjoy my food more and also eat smaller portions.
Try to eat one meal a day mindfully
Here is my practice of eating mindfully. Take your plate of food and find a spot to sit somewhere comfortably. Take a moment to look at the colors of the food on your plate and smell the aromas of the food. Try to distinguish as many different aromas or just enjoy the blend of them. Take a fork full and hold it close to your lips. See if you can “taste it” before it goes any further. Once you put it gently in your mouth, feel the textures and begin to chew slowly. You will feel digestive enzymes being released along with saliva to help you digest your food. Lastly chew for twice as long as you normally would. Once you’ve swallowed, wait a moment before repeating this with your next mouthful. If you have different foods on your plate, make a different choice for your next mouthful.
How to master mindful eating
Think about mindfulness as investigative journalism. Find out the why, what, when, where, and how of each meal.
Read more on mindful eating at Health Perch.