Mindful Eating: How to Apply Mindfulness to Meal Times
The wide variety of benefits provided by conscious eating diets are one of the keys to their amazing success.
Diets, food movements and other food trends are never in short supply. We’ve written about quite a few on our blog, including vegan, keto, ugly and slow food. Have you heard about and been curious to learn about Mindful Eating? This approach to eating is guided less by the ingredients than by a way of preparing and consuming foods.
Mindfulness practices have been infiltrating the mainstream in North American culture more and more in the last few years. And now, there is a growing trend to apply the practices of mindfulness to eating and food preparation, in part as a strategy to eat in a healthier way, by eating more slowly and consciously, and as a way to bring more awareness and enjoyment to food preparation and rituals.
So what is mindful eating? Sometimes it’s helpful to think of the opposite: mindless eating, which is eating without paying much attention to what, how or why you are eating. Mindful eating is about bringing our full attention to food preparation and eating. For example, by paying attention to what we are eating (the taste, the texture, the food source, etc), why we are eating it (for hunger, for health, for emotional reasons), and how we are eating (slowly, with friends, at a table, etc).
Having a fully mindful experience every single time you eat is probably impractical. It would make meal times quite long to slowly savour and reflect on every bite of food. However, when you have some extra time on a day off, try having a slow, mindful eating experience where you pay attention to every bite of food, thinking about the taste, the texture, and the enjoyment of eating.
In practical terms, you can have a more mindful experience of eating by slowing down and bringing your attention to your food and asking yourself some key questions as you eat.
1) Why am I eating? Am I physically hungry or am I emotionally hungry?
2) What am I eating? Am I eating healthy, nourishing foods, that are sustainably grown? Or am I eating processed, fast foods that are not as healthy? What can I learn about the flavor and texture of this food from eating it slowly? Where did my food come from, how did it become the meal I am eating?
3) How am I eating? Am I eating alone or with friends and family? Am I eating quickly or slowly? Am I doing other tasks while eating or am I focussing solely on my food?
By eating more often in a mindful way, you will likely learn a lot about yourself and your eating habits, but also begin to eat in a more healthy way, slowly and with attention to what goes in your body and why.