Everybody eats. It is a common denominator, a unifying human need. In our modern world, however, as lives get busier, eating has become coupled with other activities, like watching TV or checking our email. This would be classified as “mindless eating”, and it can do more damage than we realize. When we eat mindlessly, we lose that pure enjoyment of the experience of food and eating. We also miss out on the gratitude and experience of what is in front of us by thinking of work, dessert or to-do lists. This future-jumping is a natural part of being human. Our minds can wander and get caught up in the past and the future, even if that future is 5 minutes away. The practice of mindfulness teaches us that there is nothing more precious than the present moment- why not take that into our dinner tables?
Mindful eating is the practice of tuning in to the body’s needs, and be thoughtful about how we nourish ourselves. What if we took time at that next meal, to simply enjoy the flavors and textures of the food? It is truly a sensual experience, to allow yourself to be present, aware, and alive- to experience your food rather than just consume it.
By practicing being more present while eating, we then also tend to make healthier choices. We feel when we’re actually hungry, and when we’re satisfied. We learn to really taste food. As a result of this, we start to enjoy the taste of healthier foods, and realize that unhealthy foods don’t taste as good, or make you feel as good. When you change these eating habits, you will often lose excess weight without much effort. Noticing when you feel full, will also help you recognize patterns, such as when you might use food as an emotional substitute. Am i hungry, or am I feeling bored, upset, or restless? Eating is very tied into our psychology. It fulfills a very basic need for vitamins, energy and calories. It can also be used as a substitute for emotional comfort or to mask uncomfortable feelings. This is often referred to as ” emotional eating”. When you are enjoying food, instead of using it as an emotional stand-in, people will often notice that they enjoy eating more, and feel better in other aspects of their lives as well.
Mindfulness is any realm is a practice- it takes time and repetitions like any new skill. As we practice, this brings us back into the present moment and into our bodies, and the sensations we are experiencing. Mindfulness here allows us to fully enjoy the eating experience. Mindful eating can also benefit your life beyond the kitchen table. As you learn how foods affect your mood, sleep habits, and energy levels, you can make more empowered choices. You can choose foods that best fuel your exercise, work, and life. You are the ultimate decision-maker when it comes to your body and your energy levels. Why not fuel your life from a place of awareness and high energy? Best of luck with these new practices, and happy (mindful) eating 🙂