Hello SOTGC community,
When it comes to eating, the majority of the information out there tells us what we should or shouldn’t eat. We can think of that as the “what,” and it is really only one part of the healthy eating equation. I would argue that the “how” is just as important.
A recent client of mine gave the following description of her daily eating routine:
“I get up around 6 a.m., go downstairs, and read the paper at the kitchen counter while I prepare my breakfast and drink my cup of coffee. Because the kids wake up soon after that, I don’t really have time to sit and eat breakfast, so I eat it in my car on the way to work while I listen to the news. If I have a particularly busy day, which seems to be common, I may eat my lunch at my desk while I work. Dinner is usually quite rushed because my kids are involved in far too many extra-curricular activities, so we end up chauffeuring them around. On nights when we are not so busy, I must admit that I quite enjoy eating in front of the TV.”
If any of that resonated with you, you are in the majority. In our increasingly busy world, the idea of a leisurely meal has become artifact. We multi-task, we eat on-the-go, heck, sometimes we don’t eat at all.
This is an official call to bring mindfulness into our daily eating routines; the result will be increased satisfaction! Call me hedonistic, but it is perfectly all right to want to experience some sort of pleasure in most aspects of our daily lives. Having a root canal or doing taxes may be some exceptions, although I could probably argue the cup half full side of those seemingly less pleasurable experiences too.
If we apply mindfulness to our eating, we are often able to change our relationship with food. Rather than food being just the solution to our hunger, it also becomes a way to find a source of enjoyment in what may seem like a mundane part of our day that we take for granted. And I’m all for pleasure!
One great way to eat mindfully is to engage in a sensual experience while you eat. Now that I have your attention, and before your mind goes straight for the gutter (or perhaps it is too late), I am talking about bringing awareness to your senses while you eat. Think of it like an eating meditation….
- The first and most obvious sense is your sense of taste. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “I always taste my food.” That may be so, but for many people, the sense of taste gets ignored after the first few bites. Unless you are putting all of your attention on the process of eating, after a while you do not really taste your food.
- Next, try to pay attention to the texture and temperature of your food in your mouth with each mouthful.
- Then, tap into your sense of smell by noticing the various aromas that are wafting up to your nose while you eat. Your nose plays a big part in how you taste your food.
- And last, but not least, engage those lovely eyes of yours, and feast on the appearance of the food on your plate. If it doesn’t look appealing, that might be a clue that you need to make a change. We know that eating a diet full of vibrant fruits and veggies is good for our health, but it also makes for a more visually appetizing experience as well!
This next week, see if you can employ some mindfulness-based eating techniques during your day. It clearly may not be reasonable to expect all of your meals to be eaten with complete mindfulness, but every little bit counts. Start with a small goal if you like – five minutes of mindful eating at one meal per day. Slowly, but surely, you will notice the difference in how you feel, and you will develop a deeper awareness that mindful eating is yet another way that we can bring ourselves into the present moment.
Since SOTGC was created to be a forum for discussion we’d love it if you joined the conversation. Please comment with your thoughts below and have a great day.