Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating

Food is one of the most important things in life. We couldn’t survive without it, and we all enjoy it. But I feel that sometimes we forget its purpose, we forget to be present when we eat, abusing its abundancy and availability.

I would like to talk about mindful eating. Maybe you are familiar with the term, maybe you are not, but I hope that it will bring you more awareness regarding how, when, and what you choose to eat. I hope that you won’t feel judged, or feel that I am trying to tell you what to eat or when. The purpose is just to bring more happiness, joy and balance into your life.

I think that you are probably telling yourself  that you don’t have a problem with food, you are good, you have fixed meals and maybe also a healthy lifestyle, you are happy with youself and your relationship with food. Or perhaps you don’t have a healthy relationship with food, and your emotions influence your meal plan, so you feel unbalanced and you are upset or disappointed with yourself. In my opinion, mindful eating will only bring you positive feelings. And it won’t hurt anybody, so if you are up for it, give it a try!

What is mindful eating?

Mindful eating means being aware of your food, your body and your choices, to be awake and conscious but at the same time detached. To pay attention to the experience of eating both inside and outside of your body.

It means listening to your body, to its needs, and to what it prefers and asks for. Respect you body. When you are feeling hungry, first take a sip of water and see if you weren’t actually thirsty. Be more aware of what your body asks for. Take time to think about how your environment, habits, thoughts, stress or emotions influence your meals.

I started with small steps. The first was to identify my hunger. Before I decided to eat, I would check with my body to see if I was actually hungry, to check that I wasn’t going to eat simply out of habit. Every time I would arrive home, because of the time, I would have a meal. It seemed normal. Until I noticed that I actually wasn’t hungry every time. My body had enough energy most of the time, it didn’t need a recharge. And after I had eaten, although I wasn’t  hungry, I would be a little sleepy, because it was taking too much energy for my digestive system to digest the food that it actually didn’t need at that moment.

So, after I was aware of this, and started to respect my body’s wish, I noticed that I could be more productive. Being more productive gave me satisfaction, and made me proud of myself. Being proud of myself motivated me to do it again the next day. And after a few days, I felt lighter, I had more energy, and I managed to fulfill all my tasks and responsibilities, which immediately made me happier.

My second step was to identify what I would like to eat or to drink. So often, I felt hungry but what I wanted to eat were salads, or fruit, which I am not saying is a bad thing, but I wondered why? I noticed that this happend on several occasions, and one time before I ate, I drank some water and my feeling of hunger disappeared. My body wasn’t in fact hungry, so it chose food from which it would have the biggest intake of what it needed: water. My technique now is to think about the food that I have and see which brings more desire. But I never ask my mind, I always ask my body. It took me a while to fully identify my body’s needs and not mix them up as we have so many alternatives, but I got there with patience and work.

Another dilemma that I had were cravings. Why do we have them, and why do we sometimes have them for days? Should we satisfy them, or should we try to control and stop them? I discovered that, for example if we are craving chocolate, our organism might be lacking magnesium; if we are craving toasted bread, we might have an azote deficiency; if we want chips, or french fries, we might have a low level of calcium etc.

My advice is to listen to your cravings – they can be a signal from your body that it is lacking something which will enable it to function properly and it needs it urgently. But don’t forget to do so in a mindful matter.

My third step towards mindful eating was focusing my attention on the textures, flavours, colours, smells, sounds and chewing. I discovered so many new tastes and preferences that I never knew I had before. For example I really enjoy eating apia with hummus, but only because I really like the texture and the crunch of the apia plant, not necessarily for its taste. And I also try to have at least one meal a day, by myself, focusing on my food and the process of eating. No TV, no scrolling on my phone, reading a magazine, or talking with somebody. Just me at the table and my lovely meal.

These are just a few steps and a small but important beginning to move towards mindful eating. Give it a try, just for a few days. Take it as a challenge for yourself. See if there is any difference. Analyse yourself, your body, your mood, your level of energy and your health, always be aware, but always enjoy and be grateful for your meals!

Credits

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Mindful Eating Mindful Eating Patryk Kopaczynski CC BY-SA 4.0