How present are you when you eat? My guess is, that you’re like most of us and that you are multitasking and may even be eating while you are reading this. If this is you, it may be a good time to take a pause and decide which would you like to do; eat, or read? If it’s okay to suggest, read this first, then eat. Read on and you will see why.
Mindful eating is focusing your attention and creating awareness of what it is that you are actually eating, thinking, and feeling at that moment in time. Being fully present and limiting your distractions such as the phone, TV, music, reading, etc…
When you limit distractions, become more aware and present (being mindful), you will notice the colors on your plate, the different tastes, textures, and the sensations in your mouth. What does your food sound like when you chew, what does it smell like? Is it chewy or smooth? Is it salty, sweet, or spicy? You will notice the temperature, whether it is hot, cold, or warm? How does it feel on your lips and in your mouth? When you eat quickly, you miss the total experience. Being mindful may bring joy back into eating and connect you with your thoughts, mind, and body, a form of self-care.
Going one step further, while taking in these experiences and being mindful, what do you notice about your first bite, versus your second bite and your last bite? My guess is that your first bite is going to be full of flavor and you will feel connected and present as you notice all the different tastes, textures, and sensations. And by the last bite, it may be a challenge to notice as much as the first bite. When you eat quickly, you probably don’t notice much at all or may simply think, yum, this is good or delicious and your thoughts quickly wander from there as you mindlessly eat until it’s gone leaving you stuffed and unfulfilled.
By now you may be wondering, why do you care if you are eating mindfully or not, and ultimately, what difference does it make? Mindful eating is a way to break from the latest diets. When you practice mindful eating, it connects your mind with your body and the lines of communication to what your body has to say. You will hear the voice in your head that says I am starting to feel full, you will feel sensations you never noticed before and hear the voice in your head that notices if you are truly hungry or your level of fullness. You may notice you are not hungry at all as the emotional eating voices can be tricky.
Mindful eating supports learning how to eat the right amount of food for you, no weighing, measuring, or food rules needed. A true break from the diet culture.
Are you ready to listen to your body, eat slowly, be present, and take the 20-minute mindful eating challenge? I strongly believe in progress, not perfection. You can start small! Perhaps begin by eating that first bite mindfully and over time increasing it little by little, find your best starting point.
To set yourself up for success, pick a snack or a meal where you can limit the distractions, sit down at the table, ground yourself (be present), and begin to eat mindfully. Using all of your senses, enjoy the look, taste, smell, sound, and the touch of your food.
Eating mindfully is a practice that becomes easier over time. With the implementation of mindful eating, you will become more comfortable and confident. If you noticed, I used the word practice, as eating mindfully is not all or nothing. The more you practice, the more you will hear your body and the cues that it is giving you about your hunger, fullness, and satiety.
I continue to practice mindful eating and to be honest, some meals are better than others. What I do notice is that when I am present, and mindfully eating, I make better choices, eat less, and feel better overall because I am now aware of what my body is saying. It’s about being present, listening to what your body says, and respecting that voice!