Do you struggle to live in the moment? I do. I’m constantly thinking forward or backward. While there’s nothing wrong with planning things in the future and reflecting on the past, don’t let these practices take away from your present experience. Enter: mindfulness.
Mindfulness is all about bringing attention to your experiences and actions. This can be a wide reaching philosophy that extends over every aspect of your life. But if you’re like most modern city dwellers, you’re probably constantly on the go and thinking about your next move (like what’s for dinner). The prospect of overhauling your entire way of interacting in the world is likely overwhelming and unrealistic. Instead, it can be easier to focus on one aspect of mindfulness and mindful eating is a great place to start.
First let’s establish what mindless eating looks like:
- Eating while multitasking (working, watching TV, etc.)
- Eating out of boredom
- Stuffing yourself passed full (even if that chocolate cake is delicious!)
- Using food as an emotional crutch or a reward
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but they are some of the usual suspects when it comes to mindless eating. I struggle most with multitasking and eating – eating at my desk while I work (oops, ironically doing that right now..) and sitting in front of the TV for dinner are regular occurrences.
Tips to Start Mindful Eating
- Slow down and experience the sensations of food. Taste, smell, texture, even sound! Bonus: chewing your food thoroughly is better for digestion!
- Try silence. Even if you’re eating a family dinner, try doing to the first few minutes in silence.
- Turn off the TV and cell phone. Steer clear of distractions and focus on your food.
- Eat until you’re full. This will be easier when eating slowly and avoiding distractions!
- Only eat when you’re hungry. Get to know your hunger cues and eat accordingly – avoid eating to solve boredom or emotions.
Another way to be mindful about your eating is to consider the circumstances around your food. Where is it sourced from and under what conditions? What are the ingredients? Reflect on all the steps that your food may have taken to make it on your plate. This doesn’t have to be a long and drawn out process (or an obsessive one!). As you practice being conscious of your food choices, it will become a natural reaction.
I challenge you to try a mindful meal. If you’re like me, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Build up more mindful habits over time by choosing to fit small pieces of mindfulness into your routine. No one is perfect and it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, every bite is another opportunity to practice mindful eating!