Did you forget to have lunch? Did you eat quickly in front of the computer? Were you standing up as you ate? Did you end up eating all of the sweets in the box without noticing?
You would really benefit in being more conscious when you eat!
With our stressful urban lives, having proper meals has become secondary, and at times, even seen as a waste of time! This accelerated and automatic behavior when eating, nowadays is very common even though it’s bad for our health!
Before, having a meal was a sacred moment. Lunch couldn’t be eaten late or served twice – once at 12am and the second time at 2pm.
Science shows that our routines and attitudes towards food are important for our metabolism. Nowadays, many of us have lost the routine and lost our health!
Eating while seated at a table, sharing our meal with others is an important moment of our daily life. It has been proven that when we pay attention and respect our body and our bodily sensations (hunger, satiety, as well as cravings), our tendency is of eating less and feeling more satisfied.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is a concept derived from a Buddhist practice of “mindfulness”, or, in other words, being present in the moment (in this case – the moment of eating).
Mindfulness is a practice that has been used for decades to help patients deal with stress, and it has been increasingly used while eating.
The base principle is to pay attention to the present moment and to centralize the attention on oneself, concentrating oneself on one’s biological rhythms and sensations, like breathing and heart rate, as well as well as one’s cravings and desire.
We shouldn’t forget that human beings nourish themselves with food and feelings!
These simple practices are at everyone’s reach, no matter where you are.
You don’t have to become a Buddhist monk to do this.
Every step you take is already a change in your conscious mind that will help you better the quality of how you eat and behavior when you eat.
If you are very interested in the theme, it’s worth looking for help to learn to better practice mindful eating, and, why not, also learn to meditate.
Here are 5 easy steps to practice mindful eating:
1- Respect your body and hunger:
Ask yourself: What am I feeling? How is my hunger?
Respect your hunger and satiety, listen to your body, and respond to the cues it sends you. Something that is so intuitive to a newborn can seem hard to us, especially when we have a history of having gone on many restrictive diets. Sometimes we don’t know whether what we’re feeling is hunger or anxiety, or even tiredness. Thus, we need to start communicating with our own body again.
Are you lost? Respect the main daily meals: breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack, and dinner. Don’t wait until you are starving to eat. Respect your physical hunger.
2- Respect your cravings
Ask yourself: What do I really want?
The dictature of being skinny and nutritional terrorism make us choose options that aren’t necessarily those that we want to choose, and this can leave us frustrated. It’s important to eat with quality during our main meals, making the best choices available, while still listening to our cravings.
Do you want chocolate? Why not enjoy one piece after lunch?
3- Take several deep breaths to get back to the moment:
Ask yourself: Am I living in the moment or thinking about something else?
It’s interesting to notice that a deep breath helps diminish internal stress.
When you breathe deeply several times, you feel how much this calms you down and brings you back to the present moment.
Sit down at your table, turn off all sound and video devices, try to pay attention to the moment, and if possible, share the meals with someone to make it even nicer.
4- Enjoy the moment. Pay attention to the moment when you are eating.
Ask yourself: Am I enjoying the food? Am I eating slowly?
Eat slowly, one mouthful at a time, chew without swallowing too fast.
Notice the smell, the color, the texture, and the sensation of food in your mouth!
Eating more attentively will make you automatically slow down from your usual pace and get out of automatism. Make pauses during your meal to break the fast-eating automatism. Remember that you can eat anything again and that there aren’t any forbidden foods! This will help you diminish your constant thinking about food!
5- Enjoy your food without guilt: Look for more satisfaction, more pleasure.
Ask yourself: Am I enjoying my food without guilt? Think less and feel more!
Eat without guilt or rigid rules. Eating with guilt makes you eat more. Check out my interview on this subject here (Portuguese with English subtitles).
Know that a feeling of satisfaction takes a while to get to the brain, so try to dedicate at least 20 minutes to your meal.
Focus on feeding your body well, it’s the only one you have.
Don’t lie to your body, and respect it. Food is a blessing and should be enjoyed and appreciated.
Mindful eating was studied quite a bit and studies say that:
It helps reduce binge eating, controls various emotional states, facilitates conscious food choices, helps feel your body’s hunger and satiety cues, and also cultivates self-acceptance, in between other things.
Eat better and not less! Eating better is eating with more consciousness. Stop with the fast-eating automatism and seek to enjoy eating more and more, without stress, gradually!