Mindful eating = thinking about eating? Well, you’re actually on the right track. After spending a week at a silence retreat in Bali, I learned a thing or two about mindful eating. From someone who went from eating in between meetings and emails more often than not to a person who now appreciates the pleasure in the simplest foods (pretty sure I gazed at an apple for about 5 minutes yesterday), here’s the best of the best of mindful eating tips, hot straight from the centre of zen.
- Sit down. I know it’s tempting to grab a coffee and a muffin from the friendly train cafe on the way to work and call it breakfast, but by by passing meals themselves our bodies don’t register that we’ve eaten. Sounds like of weird I know, but the act of sitting, especially at a table, with your meal to devour it will help your brain realise it’s meal time, and further, that you’re nourishing yourself. This helps the whole digestive process along too - from the saliva in your mouth oozing when you’re looking at your beautiful bowl, right through to the area in the brain which gives out hunger signals.
- Stress less. This kind of goes hand in hand with the point above, but research has shown that when we eat our meals slowly, taking effort to chew each mouthful well, combined with being relaxed during the digestion phase, we actually absorb more of the nutrients from our food. Meaning that your chicken and avo salad that you share with your girlfriends on a Friday night to your body is not the same chicken and avo salad that you eat rushed on your work break. Digesting properly allows for macronutrients to be properly broken down, and as a result your body feels, looks and is nourished.
- Be present. When you sit with your meal, take notice of the colours, flavours, textures and combinations. Respect what goodness you are about to put into your body. Pay attention to the subtle balances in your dishes, the interesting elements you may not have noticed before. Is your corn cob particularly juicy? Is your mango smoothie creamy or more sweet? Focus your energy on the food itself and appreciate how wonderful, powerful and healing it is. The mind is a powerful tool and by being conscious of these factors, we allow food to be all that it can be.
Mindful eating encourages your energy to be filled with appreciation of your food - meaning you absorb and enjoy it all the more. Food can be as spectacular or boring as we make it - and similarly, as nourishing or empty as we decide. Given the incredible wholesomeness of food, and that it can prevent disease, improve our wellbeing and be a beautiful experience to share, I am making it a priority to be mindful when eating - and am hoping that you will too.