Hey girl! I’m sure many of us have realized that our meal times go by in a blur, or that we get so caught up working, texting or Netflix-ing while eating that we don’t even realize how much (or sometimes, what exactly) we consume. A few times, we might not even know exactly why we decided to eat at a particular time. This is where mindful eating comes into play. Ummm, excuse me, what is mindful eating? Mindful eating is a concept derived from the meditation practice of mindfulness, which involves being in tune with physical and emotional sensations, as well as the cues that trigger these sensations. As regards eating, it involves being present, aware and intentional about the food: from purchasing to preparation to consumption, and the sensations that follow each of these stages. Basically, it allows you to actually feel the effects of the food, rather than going by how you’re “supposed to” feel. Okay, and why should I try it? There are many reasons why you should try mindful eating, as it has many benefits that research has uncovered. It helps with anxiety, eating disorders, weight management, and assists in the control of some chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes. It also improves your awareness of triggers that make you eat when you’re really not hungry, and helps you differentiate between actual physical hunger and emotional eating.
Alright, I’m totally convinced, and I can’t wait to try it. But where do I start?
First of all, keep in mind that a little goes a long way. So, starting with just one meal a day, or even a few minutes out of that one meal, is fine. Grow at your own pace, sis!
You have to remember that the best place to start is always the beginning. The beginning of your meal is the purchase of the ingredients, so that’s a great place to start being intentional. Write a shopping list, actively think about why you’re including each item on the list. Ideally, the list should be more focused on the produce section of the grocery store than the center aisles containing the processed foods. When you go to the store, try your best to stick to your list and not give in too much to the candy display at the checkout.
Before you start eating, take a few deep breaths. Think of the food, of all the processes involved in getting it to your plate; of every person, plant and animal that played a part in you getting this food. You may also think about anyone you are sharing this meal with.
Focus on why you’re eating. Do you actually feel hungry or are you just bored?
Do away with any distractions; and be aware of your surroundings, but not submerged.
Go to the table hungry, with your appetite ready to receive food, but not starving. Being too hungry reduces the chances of you being able to pay attention to the food. For this, it helps if you do not skip meals.
Use all your senses for every meal. While you cook, serve and eat the food, pay attention to the different sensational aspects: the aroma, the colors, the textures, sounds, and all the different tastes.
Take small bites. You’re more able to taste food when your mouth isn’t so full.
Chew each bite slowly. Savor each bite, and try to taste every single ingredient in every bite.
Pay attention to your body’s signals. Stop eating when you feel full, not when all the food on your plate is gone.
Observe how your body feels at intervals after each meal. This will make it easier to know what foods are good for your body, that you should eat more of; and what to limit.
There you have it, girl! Do let us know your thoughts in the comments and on our social media @thickboldandhealthy. Remember, the first step to loving and respecting your body is loving and respecting what you put in it!