4 Tips For Getting Started With Mindful Eating
What is mindful eating?
First and foremost, mindful eating is not a diet or strict code to follow in order to become ‘food-enlightened’. Mindful eating is actually an easy life-long skill which can be adopted by anyone to enjoy a satisfying, healthy and enjoyable relationship with food. By eating mindfully, we can begin to enjoy healthy, flexible and relaxed eating patterns.
Eating mindfully for optimal health
Research has shown that the body is actually composed of more bacteria than cells. Most of those bacteria reside in our gut and they play multiple roles in the health of our body. Due to this, the gut is now considered a vital part in regulating immunity and inflammation, not simply a place for digestion, so maintaining a harmonious gut environment is an important part of overall health.
What are the benefits of mindful eating?
Mindful eating is about what and how we eat, and by bringing to our attention what we put into our mouths protects us from choosing the types of foods that are particularly toxic to our gut and in turn, our health.
Generally, the more processed the food, the more noxious and this type of eating can cause havoc in our digestive system. Stress hormones are released and gastrointestinal difficulties can begin.
In stark contrast, being mindful with food enables us to enjoy and savour the experience of eating. It can reduce stress hormones and allow the body enough space and time needed to digest thoroughly.
Here are 4 ways to start mindfulness eating:
1. Engaging your attention
In our other blog posts, we talk about the importance of mindfulness and the key component to mindfulness for beginners is about engaging your attention and focusing on a single aspect, for instance, the awareness of the breath during meditation. When engaging in mindfulness eating, try to bring the attention to the experience of dining. Although the mind will wander, just notice the mental chatter without judgment and see if you can redirect your attention back to the action of eating.
2. Chew, chew and chew again
As the first port of call starts in the mouth, why not give your digestive system a helping hand? The act of chewing helps the enzymes in our saliva do their job so that we can effectively absorb nutrients and get the most nourishment out of the food we are eating. The more we chew, the more we are assisting in an optimal environment for our gut.
3. Taking time to dine
Most of us simply don’t have the time to sit down to a formal meal during the day, especially at work, but just taking some time to experience the food you are eating can be a big shift towards mindful eating. Instead of the usual eat-and-work scenario, move away from the phone or laptop and indulge in the aromas, textures and individual tastes of everything you eat. Be present with your food, instead of your food being a source of fuel.
4. A question of choice
Before you next indulge in a meal, take a few moments to really think about why and how you are eating; Are you really hungry? Will this choice of food serve you well? Will you regret this choice?
Of course, in moderation it is fine to treat yourself to something that isn’t the healthiest choice, but consider if it really is worth it, how often are these treats slipping into your life and will it eventually cause you to be regretful? At what point is this no longer even a treat?
So next time you sit down to a meal, switch off the TV, close the social media app on your phone and take a moment to reflect on how grateful you are to be able to have a plateful of food, then allow yourself permission to simply eat.