An ever-growing body of research suggests that changing our attitudes and practices regarding eating and mealtime rituals can be just as important as what we actually put into our mouths. There is a concept called Mindful eating (aka intuitive eating), that intends to reconnect us to the enjoyment and experience of eating. Although there is much more to the concept than I will discuss here, the basic premise is to choose your food based on physical cues instead of emotional ones. For example, choosing to eat a banana for a snack because you are hungry instead of deciding to eat a cookie for emotional comfort because you are upset.
Science has also shown that the way we eat has a significant impact on the way the body digests food. If you are calm and relaxed at mealtime, what you consume will be digested slowly and the body will absorb the nutrition more fully. On the flip side, if you are eating in a chaotic hurried manner because you are in a rush, the body senses that hurried energy and will feel rushed as well to digest what has been consumed. Not only does the body not have the opportunity to properly digest and in turn not fully absorb the nutrients but this also commonly results in you feeling nauseated and bloated after eating.
Here are a few simple steps to get you started on the road to Mindful eating:
Even if you are on a time crunch, it is possible to eat slowly. Take time to enjoy your food. Savor the flavors. You will not only be more conscious of when you are full, but the digestive process will happen more easily.
***I am certainly guilty of this one myself, but I can also attest to the difference it makes when I apply this rule.
Turn OFF the television during mealtime!!! Don’t bring your smart phones to the table. Stop allowing your children to watch videos or play games on their electronic devices when it is time to eat. With all the distraction of electronics at mealtime, it is impossible to be conscious and mindful of your eating.
Reconnect with Food
In the world of fast food and convenience, we have lost the connection with our food. Most of us rarely take the time to consider what we are eating much less pondering the questions of where it came from or how did it get here. Invest more time and thought into your food. Visit a local farmers market instead of the supermarket. Another great way to reconnect with your food is to prepare it yourself. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to cook for yourself and your family. The best chefs will tell you the secret to preparing sensational food is to respect the simplicity of the ingredients.
I grew up in a household where blessing the food before a meal was a standard part of mealtime. No matter what your religious or spiritual beliefs are, I believe it is important to take a moment before you eat to acknowledge the food you are about to consume. Be grateful you have food on your plate, be grateful that it will provide nutrition to your body, be grateful for who and what it took to get it to your plate. Being grateful is an important part of mindful eating.