In this fast-paced world of social media, smartphones, internet and TV. Most of us never really take the time to just sit down and truly enjoy our meals.
Most of us, myself included, will often see eating as something that also involves performing another task or even a time to be entertained. Many of us will use it as a time to check our Facebook news feeds, check our emails, message someone or watch TV.
Most of us rarely ever take the time to just completely devote ourselves to eating. Sure we may sit around with family and friends and enjoy the social aspect of eating, and this is great. But most of us consume our meals so quickly that we never get the chance to really just enjoy our meals.
This is where mindful eating comes in. Instead of mindlessly eating your food while performing another task or distracting yourself with TV or your smartphone, paying little to no attention as you place your food in your mouth.
Mindful eating instead involves devoting your entire attention to the act of eating. It involves slowing down and really enjoying and savouring each and every mouthful, tasting and noticing all the flavours, the texture and even the smell of your meal. Basically, it involves just simply eating, without the need for any other distractions or performing other tasks.
Benefits of Mindful Eating:
1. Your Food Will Taste Better:
One of the most amazing things I have noticed from mindful eating is that food tastes so much better when you really slow down and take the time to actually pay attention to the flavours in your mouth. You really will be amazed by how much more you can taste.
2. Better Digestion:
Most of us eat far too quickly. When you slow down and eat slower you allow for the better release of digestive enzymes which help break down food. You are also more likely to chew your foods better, which in turn further aids in digestion, thus reducing digestive issues.
3. Reduce’s Overeating:
We all know that feeling when you just simply eat way too much. Well, when you eat more slowly you give your stomach a chance to register that you are actually eating and are more likely to eat the amount you actually need.
4 . Give’s You a Chance To Be Grateful:
In a world where so many go without proper food and water, we often forget just how lucky we are to be able to have such easy access to food. Mindful eating allows you to be grateful to be able to sit down and enjoy a decent meal.
5. You Will Enjoy The Experience of Eating Much More:
Let’s be honest we all love eating, but a lot of the time we do it in a rushed and often forced nature, attending to other tasks or entertaining ourselves. With mindful eating, you can allow eating to become entertaining in itself. And because your food will taste so much better you will enjoy eating even more than you probably already do.
6. Brings a Sense of Peace and Calm:
Once you start to get the hang of it you will be surprised by just how peaceful and calming it is to practice mindful eating. Most of us live very busy and hurried lives, always rushing from one thing to the next. It is such a good feeling to just slow down and allow yourself time to just enjoy your food.
For this reason, I recommend trying mindful eating at breakfast. Instead of starting your day in a stressed and hurried nature, rushing to get out the door for work. Take the time to just slow down, relax and just enjoy your breakfast.
How to Begin Mindful Eating:
Mindful eating may sound simple and in theory, it is, but given the world we live in and all the distractions we have at our fingertips. Just sitting and devoting your entire attention to eating, is surprisingly more difficult than you would think. But the more you do it the better you will get at it and the more you will begin to enjoy it.
So here is a short guide of how I started incorporating mindful eating into my life and how you can do it too.
1. Go Easy on Yourself:
Like I said, mindful eating is harder than it sounds. So you really need to go easy on yourself when you first start out.
Remember mindful eating means having NO distractions what so ever. That means no TV in the background and no using of your smartphone, which means no checking Facebook notifications or your news feed, no emailing, no messaging and no googling random information (this was hardest for me).
When you start trying to mindfully eat you will no doubt realise just how addicted you are to your smartphone, I know I certainly did. It takes time and practice to not feel like you constantly need to be checking your phone, so go easy on yourself.
Don’t expect to go your entire meal without checking or using your phone, or attending to another task. Just try for a couple of minutes at first and slowly build up until you can eventually go your entire meal without needing other distractions or attending to other tasks.
2. Just Dedicate One Meal a Day:
It’s unrealistic to think that you need to be or will be able to be mindful every time you eat something. But if you can learn to dedicate just one meal a day to mindful eating then you are doing very well.
I choose to dedicate breakfast to mindful eating, because the morning is usually the quietest part of the day, and therefore the easiest time to implement mindful eating. I choose to wake up early for work so that I know that I will have the house to myself in the morning.
I would recommend you try this method out and see if it works for you. I occasionally try doing it for lunch but the easiest time for me is breakfast and as I said earlier it’s a great way to start the day. As for dinner, I rarely do it at this time because I see this as a great time to interact and socialise with either your family, friends or housemates, but you can, of course, try it at dinner if that suits you.
3. Do It In Silence:
Mindful eating is best done in silence. This way you are far better able to focus all of your attention on the food that you are placing in your mouth as opposed to putting your attention on other tasks such as the TV, your phone, your computer or making conversation.
This is another reason I choose to dedicate my breakfast to mindful eating because as I have said there are far fewer distractions in the morning especially if you choose to wake up before anyone else in your house.
It is not a requirement to do mindful eating in silence, and as you do it more often you will be able to do it while having people and other distractions around you. But for starting out, I recommend doing it in silence.
Step 1: Start by just observing your food, taking into account the smell and look of your meal. Just take the time to appreciate the meal in front of you that you are about to consume.
Step 2: Depending on the meal you are eating take your cutlery in your hands and either cut or gather a spoon or fork full of your meal. Try to do this slowly taking into account the texture of your meal.
Step 3: Place the food in your mouth. Take into account the texture of the food in your mouth, chew the food slowly and really pay attention to all the flavours you can taste.
Step 4: Chew your food until it is really broken down and then swallow.
Step 5: Stop for a few seconds before taking another spoon or fork full.
Step 6: Repeat this process until you have finished your entire meal.
As you can see it is actually a very simple process, but like I said it is actually a lot harder than it seems.
It takes a lot of patience and practice to be able to eat your foods slowly and without distractions. I am still learning to do this myself. But I can assure you that you will get better and you will certainly enjoy it once you get the hang of it.