It seems that every day, there’s a new category of mindfulness. Maybe it’s mindful parenting, using technology more mindfully, mindful running or practising mindfulness when taking part in body neutrality. Mindfulness has been constant for over a millennia and works for everyone — well, almost everyone.
This isn’t exactly a new category — but it’s one worth exploring. It’s mindful eating, and it will transform your thoughts and relationship with food, and the consumption of it (the name does give it away up front).
In the scholarly journal, Diabetes Spectrum, mindful eating is defined as: “An approach to food that focuses on individuals’ sensual awareness of their food and their experience of the food.” Its purpose is not to lose weight, but to help individuals savour the moment, pay attention to the food — and most importantly, do it without judgement.
Although there are no “rules” to mindful eating, as you so often see with diets or eating programs, there are ways to undergo mindful eating.
These include eating slowly, without distraction (yes, we mean the TV); listening to hunger cues, and eating only until you’re full; distinguishing between true hunger and non-hunger triggers (boredom, emotional); eating to maintain health and well-being, not as a form of punishment; appreciating your food and more.
Mindful eating really begins with mindful grocery shopping (maybe we did introduce a new mindfulness category today). It’s best to go grocery shopping when your stomach is already sated, as you’re more likely to avoid impulse buying that way.
Buy as much fresh produce as you can, and load up on lots of veggies (we’ve got hacks for you to keep them fresher for longer). The Mediterranean diet has a plethora of health benefits, so consider buying ingredients that fit within that. But beyond that, choose what you genuinely want to eat. If you like mushrooms, buy them. If you don’t, skip ’em. It’s your choice.
Set up your eating space properly. We’re not saying it has to be a restaurant affair, but please do sit at some sort of table and chair to eat your meal. Clear out the clutter (yes, that includes your phone and computer) and turn the TV off.
Appreciate your food. Before munching down, think about the journey it took for your food to get to your plate — and how you contributed to that journey. If you’re eating with friends or family, express gratitude for them too.
Invite all your senses to the meal. So often, we do really chow our meals down without, well, thinking. We might take time to smell and taste it — but what about how the food looks? The texture of the food in your mouth? How the food feels in your hand and even the sounds it can make — think about the crunch of a really good taco.
And lastly — take your time eating your meal. Take smaller bites and chew more slowly, and more thoroughly. Focus on how it makes you feel, and most importantly, stop when you feel full.
It’s not going to all come naturally — so just start with one meal a day, and work your way up from there. Soon enough, mindful eating will become second nature.