More often than not, we don’t pay attention to what we are eating—the flavours, textures, spices, and aromas go unregistered because our brain is too focused on the screens. In doing so, we are treating the process of eating as a task—something that needs to be checked off the to-do list. But, eating food is much more than that.
When you remove the external (screens) and internal (mindless thinking) distractions and pay attention to the food in front of you, eat slowly, chew properly and truly enjoy the experience of eating, that is when you eat mindfully for the sole purpose of nourishing your body. Mindful eating is a practice of being aware and present at the moment you’re eating, paying attention to each bite, and how the food tastes and feels. Mindful eating can help you get in sync with your body, lose weight, improve digestion, and reduce binge eating and overeating.
(Family Meal; Photo by Yan Krukov, Source)
Here are some simple ways to include mindful eating in your life:
Observe Your Eating Behaviours
Before you start including mindfulness in your life, you need to understand which mindless behaviours you have and which need to be changed. You would be surprised to know the things you do unawarely.
It’s better to first take some time to notice your behaviour:
- When do you eat mindlessly?
- Do you only eat fast when in front of the TV?
- Do you overeat when stressed or excited?
- Do you daydream or stress about something during your meals?
Observing your behaviour helps you understand whether you eat when your mind demands or your body. Try to understand your triggers, see if you can eliminate them, like switching off the TV during dinner time, and instead of binge eating when you feel stressed, talk to a friend or a family member. Untangle and organise your emotions in a healthy way.
Instead of you and your mind controlling the body, let the body control you.
Eating is just as important as your work projects!
We live in a world with a “Go-Go-Go” mentality where having meals in silence has become a luxury. We don’t have time to eat. And hence, most of us end up swallowing food down and hardly taking time to chew it properly.
Some suggest chewing 32 times (1 for each tooth), and others suggest chewing 22 times. The essence of the story is—to take time to eat. The lesser you chew, the more pressure it puts on your digestive system, which can lead to stomach aches and indigestion. Slowing down also allows our mind and body to register what we are eating. It helps you connect with the food and appreciate it more, generating a sense of gratitude for the people who harvest and cook.
Eat With Humans, Not Machines
All your friends have been telling you to watch that one show people on social media cannot stop talking about, but in this busy world, the only time you have to watch it is during meals. Sorry to break the sad news, but you’ll have to find a different time to Netflix and Chill.
When you eat in front of the TV or computer, you pay more attention to what’s happening on the screen than to the food on your plate; as a result, you end up eating more than your body needs. Instead, make a tradition of eating meals with your friends or family. It allows you to catch up with them and also helps you not overeat. Having meals with loved ones can help you release the stress and tension of the day.
Understand The WHY Of Eating
Food is necessary for your health and well-being. It nourishes your body and keeps it functioning. Though there is nothing wrong with indulging in your favourite snacks or desserts—we associate these foods with happiness and celebration. But, it is important to keep a check on whether you binge eat or overeat when you are high on emotions—happy or sad.
Next time you feel stressed or anxious, try to observe if you reach for the pack of chips or the box of cookies to cope with your feelings. Research suggests emotional eating can lead to weight gain. If not paid attention, it can lead to obesity and other high-risk diseases. If stress triggers overeating for you, try to consciously reach out to your loved ones when you don’t feel well. Going on a walk, listening to music, reading your favourite book, or dancing can also help you release tension.
Listen To Your Body
Your body is way more intelligent than you give it credit for. If you let it, it will tell you exactly how much food it needs, when it is hungry, and when it is full, but the problem is, we often don’t listen to it. We listen more to our minds than to our bodies. Ideally, you should eat three balanced meals a day, but that doesn’t mean eating even if you’re not hungry.
You can be more hungry one day and not much on the next. One day you might need a big lunch, and you might not even be hungry for lunch the next day. It happens because your physical and mental activity is different every day and can impact your hunger and thirst. It is important to listen to the hunger cues your body sends you and feed it as much as it needs; and as and when it needs.
Mindful eating is a practice that you can’t master in a few days or weeks. It requires deliberate efforts and commitment. But, don’t stress or obsess about it; instead focus on one day at a time. For the next few days, we recommend you observe your behaviour and try to understand the things you are in control of changing. Acknowledge your behaviours without any judgement.
You don’t have to be perfect and always be present when eating. Mindfulness is easier said than done, so instead of forcing it, slowly and gradually include the recommendations of this article in your life. Not every day is going to be perfect, and it doesn’t have to be. You can only practise mindfulness by being gentle and patient with yourself.
We wish you all the best!