As you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’ve had something to eat or drink in the last hour. Whatever it might have been, do you recall the exact taste? The temperature? The flavors? Or were you busy doing something else so you don’t remember much about the experience? If the details are a little murky you might consider trying mindful eating.
What is mindful eating?
Mindfulness is an awareness of your surroundings and recognition of whatever feelings you might have at any given time. This awareness is an important part of developing healthy thoughts that can move into other aspects of your life, one being mindful eating. The Center for Mindful Eating writes that “mindful eating helps us become aware of our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations related to eating, reconnecting us with our innate inner wisdom about hunger and satiety.” The practice encourages people to pay close attention to what they’re eating, examining the individual health benefits as well as the larger, global impact their food has on the world.
To practice mindful eating is to be fully aware of what you’re eating, and includes an attentiveness to the process of buying, prepping, consuming, and disposing of your foods. It is the opposite of mindless eating, something that many of us do when we eat while doing other activities such as working or watching television. Mindful eating isn’t a diet since the practice does not focus on calorie count or exclusion of certain macronutrients. Rather, it helps practitioners develop a gratitude for the food that they’re able to eat.
How to practice mindful eating
Mindful eating begins with your grocery shopping. When shopping, consider the advantages of each item to your own health and the health of the environment. Are the foods packaged sustainably? If not, try searching for an alternative. Furthermore, as you are prepping the food, take a moment to appreciate it for what it is and the good it does for your body. After prepping, try to eat slowly, taking small bites and fully chewing each one to get a better sense of the taste of the food. Rid yourself of the distractions of screens by focusing solely on the meal and your companions if you’re eating with others. Doing so helps you to be fully aware of the food and the specific tastes and textures.
As you become better aware of what you are eating, you can learn more about how the food makes you feel and what aspects of the meal you enjoyed. You can then take those feelings and adjust accordingly. The practice allows you to examine your individual motivations for eating—be it hunger, craving, boredom, or a variety of other emotions—and you can learn from your own habits. In the end, you may ultimately have a greater appreciation for your food.
Mindful eating is a great practice for improving eating habits as it forces you to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. To learn more about mindful eating, visit the Center for Mindful Eating.