The business of the holidays can be exhausting. Often by January, we find ourselves gasping for air and longing for a moment to recuperate. That’s why this is the perfect time of year to talk about mindful eating.
Over the past few weeks how many meals and snacks do you actually remember eating?
How many healthy heart meals did you spend so deep in conversation, that you didn’t even notice what you were putting in your mouth? And, how many chocolates and cookies did you consume—just because they were sitting in front of you? How many times were you so busy running around making sure everyone else was fed and satisfied, that you ate your meal on the fly, filling your belly, but not really thinking about what you were putting in your mouth?
Many of us are guilty of mindless eating. We eat out of habit or out of necessity, but we don’t stop to enjoy the process; to feel grateful for the food we’re eating; or to notice how the food makes us feel.
Mindful eating can be traced back to Buddhism as a form of meditation, but has more recently become a mainstream practice. Some even argue that mindful eating is the solution to over-eating and obesity.
The idea is to be aware (or mindful) of everything you put into your body. To focus on what the food tastes like, feels like, smells like, sounds like—and most importantly how your body responds to it. When it comes to weight-loss there are a few things that you’ll notice when you sit down to eat mindfully. Number one, foods you think you want, like sweets or junk food, may not feel as good while you’re eating them, and you may find yourself wanting to stop part way through and switch to something healthier. Two, while eating more slowly and savouring the food you are eating, you’ll find yourself feeling full much sooner—not needing such large portions to satisfy your hunger.
Your challenge for this week: try to treat each meal like you would a wine tasting. Feel the food, smell it, look at it, notice how it feels in your mouth, what flavours you can recognize, how long it takes you to chew it, how it makes you feel as you swallow and digest. Become overly aware of each item on your plate—and watch to see how it changes the experience of consuming food.
Want to learn more about mindful eating?
This New York Times article does a great job explaining what it’s all about and how it’s rising in popularity.
If you want to dig a little deeper, consider this book, Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food and, this article written by the book’s author, Jan Chozen Bays.
Once you’ve tried eating mindfully, tell us what you thought. Share your experiences and insights in the comments section below.