For those of us with demanding schedules, daily meals tend to be rushed, with no time to enjoy or even savor the food we consume. Establishing a relationship with the food we eat may seem unorthodox, but it is in fact imperative to maintaining a healthy balance within our bodies. The principles of "mindful eating" are rooted in the teachings of Buddhism and remain a part of today’s concept of physical and spiritual harmony. It may seem like a misuse of time for people on the go, but actually slowing down our eating process while taking pleasure in every flavor in our food can bring us closer to mind, body, and spiritual enlightenment.
“Mindful eating is a technique that anyone can use to bring awareness to what and how you eat,” Editor-in-Chief at ENJI Daily, Danielle Hart, told Medical Daily in an email. "Although it's become very popular recently, it's not a weight-loss fad. It's about bringing consciousness to the act of eating. As you practice mindful eating, you may become more intuitive about your hunger and your body's energy needs, which may help you avoid overeating.”
To understand mindful eating, we must first explore the concept of mindfulness. According to the American Psychological Association, "mindfulness" refers to a psychological state of awareness. The state of mindfulness can be achieved by means of several practices, including meditation, yoga, tai chi, and mindful eating. Although mindfulness may seem like a holistic approach to physiological and psychological well-being, many experts endorse its benefits. Achieving mindfulness has been regarded as a helpful technique for reducing stress, improving cognitive ability and emotional satisfaction.
The Center for Mindful Eating lays out the principles and values of eating mindfully along with what can be achieved by someone who utilizes this practice. First, your senses must focus on the food that is in front you. Take time to look at your meal (its texture and color), and think about what went into preparing it. To do this, we must eliminate all outside distractions, including our smartphone, TV, etc. Next, grab a spoonful of whatever you desire, but DON’T EAT yet. Just smell the food you’re about to eat without actually eating it. You may feel the anticipation of eating has already given you a renewed sense of your relationship with food.
“Many of us eat in an environment of distractions - you might be driving, or the TV's on, or you're rushing to grab a quick breakfast or lunch while you're at your desk,” Hart said. “When you select food, you might not be listening to your own inner wisdom, telling you what type of food will make you feel good, strong, and healthy. You might just eat whatever is quickest and easiest, or eat what your friends are eating. These are all examples of eating without awareness, without being in the present moment with your food and recognizing how it will make you feel.”
When it finally does come time to eat, don’t go for a big bite with a mixture of everything on your plate. Taste each component of the dish by itself to get a sense of what the meal consists of. Between each bite, put your spoon or fork down, and take time to savor the taste. Feel the crunch of the food and hold back from swallowing too quickly. Pay attention to how full you feel with each bite, and don’t be afraid to notice what you like and what may be bland. Speaking of which, it doesn’t matter what type of food you eat. Everything from fried chicken to a salad can be eaten mindfully.
Remember: Your senses are your best weapons for mindful eating. Hone these senses by focusing solely on your meal and drowning out anything that could draw your attention. Over the course of eating, you may find yourself feeling full without having eaten your usual amount. This is exactly the motive behind the practice. To be aware of the relationship food is having with your body means knowing when we are full and when we are eating in excess.
“Mindful eating is a tool that is absolutely free and can be used anytime,” Hart added in her email. “As you practice, you may find your eating habits become more balanced and informed by what you learn, as you tap into how what you eat affects how you feel.”