So much of what we do nowadays is done distractedly at top speed. We drive quickly from one place to the next while listening to a podcast or talking on the phone. We clean in a hurry because guests are coming. We shovel down our meals while scrolling through social media and toss our plate into the dishwasher without a pause.
But what if we did pause? What if we took a moment to enter into the moment?
Mindfulness is incredibly countercultural. It challenges our busy, overly active and distracted lifestyles by forcing us to slow down and engage with the world around us.
Mindfulness is a practice whereby one is forced to be fully present, physically and mentally, to the moment, experiencing it with all five senses, and then allowing it to pass by, without casting judgment or making assumptions.
Mindfulness is most often associated with yoga and meditation, as a crucial component of these practices is remaining grounded in the present moment, typically by focusing on the inhalation and exhalation of the breath. However, yoga and meditation are not the only methods of practicing mindfulness.
Mindful eating is taking the concept of mindfully experiencing a moment, judgement-free with all five senses, and incorporating it into meal prep and mealtimes. It offers many benefits like preventing overeating due to distraction, managing one’s weight by selecting proper meal choices, listening to bodily cues and helping increase moments of relaxation in our day.
Practicing mindful eating
Practicing mindful eating habits begins before you even sit down at the dining table to eat; mindful eating starts with your grocery list.
Shop mindfully – When you visit the grocery store hungry, you’re likely to shop based on the experience of hunger. Typically, highly sugary or salty foods will draw your attention, leaving you with a cart full of unhealthy items, not to mention a bunch of random things that sounded good in the moment but won’t actually make a nutritious meal. This is why writing out a list ahead of time is the first step in mindfully eating. It allows you to plan your meals for the week, take inventory of what you do and don’t have in your pantry and then shop accordingly.
Prepare mindfully – Mindfulness is about engaging and interacting with all five senses. While preparing your meals, find yourself observing the color and texture of the ingredients. Does it emit a fragrance when you cut into it? Is it rough, smooth, juicy or dry? Try to refrain from opinionated thoughts, such as “I hate cutting onions, it’s so painful,” and instead simply observe, “This onion is making my eyes water.”
How to eat mindfully
After you’ve prepared your meal, the actual mindful eating part begins.
Remove all distractions – This includes cell phones, laptops, TVs, books, magazines, newspapers, whatever it may be which keeps you from being one hundred percent focused on the meal in front of you.
Engage with the food – This might sound odd, but in order to fully eat mindfully, it’s important to take the time to, again, use all five senses to engage with the meal. Is it sweet, sour, spicy or rich? Is it hot or cold? What does it smell like? What color combination does the dish present? Again, try to avoid judging the dish. Instead of deciding that you hate it, come to the realization that this kind of meat, this combination of spices, this flavor of soup isn’t pleasing to you, and let it be.
Take note of why you’re eating – Are you eating because it’s time for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or for some other reason? Are you bored, stressed or tired? Did you grab something from the pantry because it coincides with your evening tv show? If you acknowledge why you’re gravitating towards food, you might be less inclined to eat as an unhealthy coping mechanism or subconscious action.
Listen to your body – It can be easy to overeat with distractions. Why? Because it takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to signal satiety to the brain, and if you’re eating handfuls from a bag of crackers while watching a show, it can be difficult to give proper attention to bodily cues. This is where mindful eating helps; through eating slowly and intentionally, you’ll have the wherewithal to know when you’ve eaten enough or when you should reach for a second helping.
Benefits of mindful eating
Because mindful eating challenges you to slow down and be intentional with the food you put into your body, there are countless benefits to eating mindfully, including:
Allowing cravings to pass without indulging
Weight loss through healthy food choices and less overeating
Focusing on more productive coping methods than stress eating
Promoting heart health and controlled blood sugar
Increasing variety in meals and food choices
Not to mention the fact that mindfulness in general promotes better sleep quality, reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, help for chronic pain and less stress overall.
To enjoy all the benefits of holistic healing and recovery, from practices of mindfulness to talk therapy, contact Pyramid Online Counseling today at 833-525-3077.