A Guide to Mindful Eating
A Guide to Mindful Eating
By Terra LaRock
Do you remember your last meal? What did it smell like, taste like, look like?
I just inhaled a cold bagel with cream cheese without even slowing down to chew. Hardly a satisfying experience.
At this time in my life, I am pulled in so many directions that my relationship with food has become somewhat detached. It makes me think of the many times I have been at work and I have just shoved food in my mouth while walking from one meeting to the next or while typing up reports and answering emails--always doing more with my time.
I am sick of doing more!
I actually want to do less and want you to do less as well. How, you say? Let’s start with mindful eating. Let’s start with something easy--commit to mindfully eat three bites of food.
Stop the constant urge to do more, and slow down to reconnect with the food that gives you energy, keeps you healthy, and enriches your life.
The next time you sit down to eat, whether it be at work or with your family, try to take one mindful bite of food.
Before eating ask yourself:
Why am I eating?
Am I sitting down? If not, sit.
What does my food smell like?
What does my food look like?
Where does the food I am about to eat come from? A plant, a tree, an animal?
During your first bite ask yourself (with your eyes closed):
What side of my mouth am I chewing on?
What flavors do I taste?
Am I eating fast or slow?
After your first bite?
What thoughts did I notice? Was I focused on my food or was I thinking about other things? Either way is perfectly fine---don’t judge, just notice.
What feelings did I have? Was I anxious and wanting to get the bite over with? Did I enjoy it? Did it bring satisfaction?
I have been practicing mindful eating (whether it be one bite each meal, or an entire meal each day) for a few years. I still have many meals that aren’t mindful (like my most recent bagel experience) but I am trying my best to integrate this practice into my life.
When I eat mindfully my relationship with food changes. I begin to appreciate my food. I welcome the emotions that come from the foods I am eating. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with sadness from a memory elicited from the flavors. Other mindful eating experiences have filled me with peace and stillness. The foods I consume become more than just sustenance, they become a welcome experience.
Mindful eating isn’t about losing weight or trying to eat less, it’s about giving yourself the gift of slowing down each day. Below are some observations that I have noticed from trying mindful eating.
The other day, I was eating oatmeal with cinnamon. I noticed that I didn’t know a lot about the origins of cinnamon. After my mindful meal, I looked it up. Turns out it originates from Indonesia! It’s pretty cool that my mindful eating caused me to learn something new.
I notice that I listen to my body cues more. I am aware when I am eating out of boredom, stress or anxiety, as opposed to when I am actually hungry.
It has made me feel more connected to others and I am more appreciative of the effort it took others to provide my family with food. I often stop and think about the person who hand picked my strawberries or the person who packaged them, drove the truck to transport them or the clerk at the grocery store who bagged them for me.
It gives me more desire to grow my own food. My husband and I have always had a big garden but since starting my mindful journey, my relationship to the food that we have grown has deepened. I’ve realized how important it is to make our daughter, Winter, an integral part of the process, from planting the seeds, watering the garden to harvesting.
I can’t wait to hear about your mindful eating experience! Please comment below to tell if and when you try it!