What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful Eating involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside the body. The idea is to pay attention to the textures, smells, colors, flavors, temperatures, and even the sounds (crunch!) of our food.
We're used to paying attention to the experience of the body. We know immediately when we're hungry. But where in the body do we feel hunger? Where do we feel satisfaction? What does half-full feel like, or three quarter full?
Mindful Eating also involves paying attention to the mind. We must avoid getting distracted while we're eating as this pulls away from full attention to what we are drinking or eating.
The Raisin Meditation:
The Raisin Meditation is an exercise based on Buddhist teachings. The intention of this practice is to bring acute awareness to your senses and ultimate eating habits. Check out this link for a step-by-step walkthrough.
How Do I Know I'm Not Practising Mindful Eating?
Overeating, bingeing and drastic dieting.
Feeling guilty or ashamed after overeating.
Eating food just because it’s there.
Eating at set times of the day, not when hungry.
Eating to avoid hunger.
Eating food without really tasting it.
Eating without realising you’re doing it.
Emotional eating – eating when bored, stressed or anxious.
How Can I Practise Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating takes dedicated practice, and there are many practices you can develop to help you eat mindfully for good health:
SAVOR SMALL BITS, AND CHEW THOROUGHLY.
Consciously choosing smaller bites and chewing them well can help you slow down your meal as well as allow you to fully experience the taste of your food. It can also help improve your digestion, since the process of breaking down our foods begins with enzymes in the mouth.
SERVE IN MODEST PORTIONS.
Moderation is integral to mindful eating. Making a conscious effort to choose smaller portions will help you avoid overeating and weight gain. It is also less wasteful of your household food budget, as well as the planet's diminishing resources.
Using a small dinner plate, no larger than 9 inches across, and filling it only once can help you eat more moderately.
ENGAGE ALL SIX SENSES.
As you serve and eat your meal, notice the sounds, colors, smells and textures as well as your mind’s response to them. When you put the first bite of food in your mouth, pause briefly before chewing, and savor the taste as if it was the first time you'd ever tasted it! With more practice in engaging all of your senses, you will be able to practice more mindful eating.
EAT SLOWLY AND AVOID OVEREATING.
Eating slowly helps you notice when you are feeling pleasantly satisfied, so you can stop before you've eaten too much. There's a big difference between feeling that you've had just about enough to eat, and feeling like you've eaten all that you could possibly eat! Mindful eaters practice the former, and hence avoid overtaxing their bodies - or overtaxing the planet’s resources!
How Does Mindful Eating Make A Difference?
It helps tune our appetite signals to recognise the stages of hunger through to fullness.
It enables us to connect with the actual sensory experiences of eating.
It creates a more positive and calm experience around food and eating.
It gives us the ability to create ‘space’ between human experiences like cravings, emotional experiences (such as stress) or body sensations (such as tightness in the chest) and resorting to binge eating.
It helps us make decisions about food that make us feel good, both during and after eating..
It creates an acute awareness of when you’re eating for non-hungry, or emotional reasons.
It makes us enjoy our food more!