Imagine you are working on a project, all engrossed in it. Just another email and I will then take a break, you tell yourself. You hit send, relax a bit in your chair and head straight for that bar of chocolate, a bag of chips or a leftover sandwich from last night.
You take in the first bite and then a second. The first one seemed heavenly. The second less yummy than that but you don’t mind. You put one hand on the mouse and aim to open a new tab for some news in the sports or entertainment industry. The very first title catches your attention and you jump right into it. Perhaps a new scandal among celebrities or your favorite team buying an important player for the next game… you continue eating while reading or watching the video and BAM!
You look down and your hand is empty. Did you really eat all of that? Where did it go? The last traces of it on your fingers confirm that you DID eat it. What sets in next is the dissatisfaction and disappointment. You feel disappointed because you didn’t get to really enjoy it. You feel dissatisfied because you still feel hungry.
This is where mindful eating comes in.
It may seem like a familiar topic but do you really know what it is all about?
Mindful eating involves indulgence of food. It isn’t a form of diet as it doesn’t restrict the individual to abstain from food. It merely urges him/her to enjoy it completely while having it. It’s about savoring every bite and eating slowly. It is about tuning in with your mind and becoming conscious of the food.
We rely on others to tell us how to eat, how about listening to our own bodies?
On a broader spectrum, it involves:
There are tons of benefits associated with mindful eating. Some of my most favorite ones include:
On a weekend, I planned to do absolutely NOTHING and just be a couch potato and stuff my face with Cheerios, I got a call from one of my dear friends who insisted that I attend this seminar with her as her partners ditched her the last minute. After trying to convince her why I was not a fit for such fancy aka boring places, (I just didn’t want to go) I decided to tag along as her plus one.
The topic for the seminar was mindfulness and its enormous impacts on our lives and well-being. I had already decided to aim for the furthest seat in the hall so that I can walk out whenever I wanted without being noticed. Spoiler Alert! Nothing of that sort happened. The facilitator kicked off with a few breathing exercises, that, unexpectedly I enjoyed doing. Then he went on to incorporate some research-backed facts to give the audience an idea about his expertise on the subject. He talked about the many ongoing experiments and then further explained how we can use this complete state of awareness to control our bodies and minds. As I grasped more and more of what he was saying, I felt different. He wasn’t trying to sell me anything but simply trying to convince me to try a different approach to how we saw and feel things.
He didn’t want us to step out of the box but rather stay within and appreciate its presence.
Be in the present, indulge all your senses at once, see around yourself with a different perspective.
I know it sounds too theoretical, but just for a minute, drop everything you are doing and just focus on the things happening around you. If you are work, see what others are doing. Sense their bodily movements, make note of their expressions, their talking, their working style and much more. Do you see how many things you miss out on? All the messages they or their bodies are giving away? Can you not make note of these?
You probably did!
The same rules apply to eating. You have to be aware of what you are putting in your mouth and salivate it with a focused mind. You need to take in the experience that comes along with each bite, appreciate all the spices that went into making it what it is and seek pleasure from it.
Most importantly, only eat when you feel like eating!
Now that you are intrigued by the subject, it is time you practice the art in person. To make the journey easy, I am going to disclose my secret way of eating mindfully. (Please take notes)
Be it work problems, maddening traffic on your way back home, conflicts in relationships or worry about finances, there are many situations that contribute to the way we rely on food. A constant state of stress in our lives releases cortisol (the stress hormone) in our bodies which results in an increased appetite. As a result, we crave for comfy foods such as sugary delights, greasy meats or salty delicacies. This mindless eating can be contributed to a number of factors such as boredom, automatic eating, stress or emotional factors.
Food deserves to be enjoyed. Most of us are blessed to choose our food. We have the opportunity to eat whatever we want whenever we want. Can we not cherish that?
Eating mindfully is an art that allows you to appreciate and relish your food.
You can indulge all your senses at once and truly feel the texture, consistency, and taste of your meal. Seek guidance from your satiety cues to begin and stop eating. Be aware of your physical hunger needs.
Published in MinfulDevMag issue #3 -- Download full issue