05 Jun Mindful Eating Can Bring You Joy!
Eating is something we often do with other activities like watching TV, working, watching something on your phone, talking or even daydreaming. We have been doing this so mindlessly that we have created bad habits like reckless eating or not chewing the food well. This is where mindful eating comes in. It is combining mindfulness with our modern problems - like eating disorders.
Mindful eating is not a diet or a program. It is simply becoming more mindful of what we eat.
Why do we need to change our mindset around food?
The problems that we face today arrive because we don’t enjoy the flavour - not food. Sure, we can all be happy with the delicious food and be grateful for a full belly - but to become mindful of the flavour is different. Because we eat in a hurry, we always look forward to the next bite instead of enjoying what is currently being eaten.
Secondly, because most of us don’t have a fixed time of eating - our body doesn’t really know when to stop and start eating. Since our sense of hunger is also motivated by things like comfort eating or restaurant size portions - we may tend to overeat and then immediately follow up by under eating. We think like ‘I ate this huge meal in the evening, so let me skip dinner’.
This is why mindful eating will plug us back into our body’s cues as we become aware of our body and its patterns. It also helps us to become aware of why our emotions dictate why we eat a certain amount or in a certain way.
Another thing is that we don’t reflect on how the food has reached the table. If you think of the sun, the rain, the clouds, the microorganisms, farmers, vendors and many others - you become more aware of the hard work put into the food before you, hence gradually building a sense of gratitude fr simple things in our life.
3 cool benefits of mindful eating:
- Over the past 20 years, studies have shown the mindfulness-based awareness helped people to overcome binge eating and reduce over eating.
- Studies have found that it helped people who had chronic eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, and also help them deal with body and anxiety associated with food.
- Helps with weight loss: significant changes in weight, eating behavior, and psychological distress in obese individuals.
Why mindfulness eating is more than just tasting what’s in your mouth:
It’s not about just savoring the taste- it’s about being present.
This means to become more mentally present with your significant other instead of sitting with them and being on your cell phone. It’s about engaging with what you are doing by focusing on one step at a time. Therefore, we practice how to pay attention to this moment- it’s much better than eating a whole tub of ice cream and not tasting a single spoon.
It’s really important to ask yourself these 4 questions when you want to center yourself with food:
- Am I tasting each bite, or am I zoned out and somewhere else?
- What changes have happened to my body before and after eating: Hungry? Full? Energetic?
- What feeling can I associate with what I am eating now: Joy? Regret? Happiness? Disappointment?
- What thoughts pop up when I eat: Memories? Fears? Beliefs?
Our mind always seems to be looking forward to what’s to come in the future, as if it’s a spoonful away. Every time you dig your spoon in, it seems like you are waiting for something better to happen with the next bite and so on. This is why we need to slow down, smell, feel and taste our food and center the mind before we fully consume anything.
Nehita is a mindfulness expert who writes extensively on lifestyle management, wellness and ways to lead a healthier and a happier life. She is a part of Aware’s expert team on meditation. She is also an avid artist who spends most her time dribbling amazing stories through art.c