How To Eat More Mindfully
It's common these days to have some sort of gratitude or meditation practice and if you don’t, you probably know that it’s an effective tool to work on staying present and practice mindfulness in daily life. Mindfulness changed my life in the best way possible. A mindfulness practice changed the way I eat, the way I interact with the environment and other people, the way I move, the way I love. If all of this is new to you, start here. But we don't often consider how mindfulness might impact our food choices. This week, take some time to practice mindfulness, particularly when you're grocery shopping, cooking and eating.
So let’s get practical. Here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Ask Good Questions. When you're eating, what feelings and emotions come up? Do you ascribe emotional attachment to any particular foods? Or is it simply sustenance?
2. Consciously consider how the food you eat is making you feel. Take the story away and pay attention to the way your body feels in reaction to it. How do you feel in the moment and how do you feel throughout the day? Are you sleeping well? Is the food giving you lasting energy or making you more tired? If you crash, what time does that happen? Consider journaling on this so you become more aware of how your food choices impact the body.
3. Thoroughly chew your food and put your fork down between each bite instead of rushing through meals to get on to the next thing. Really slow down and savor the sustenance. Notice how the food smells, looks and tastes as you chew. Pay attention. Be aware. In order to do this, it’s best to remove phones and TV from your eating experience, which will prevent you from going on autopilot.
4. Think about and research where your food came from. Who grew it? Do you know the name of the farmer and the details of their farming practices? If you're eating meat, how are the animals raised? I had a principal in middle school who used to say, "Knowledge is power." It was true then and it's true now!
Mindfulness practice can lead to some really life changing breakthroughs. I would encourage you to be gentle with yourself as you head into this territory, because awareness takes time. Over time you will:
- Learn to eat only when you're hungry and only until you're full. This alone will make feel more energized.
- Enjoy the taste of real food and recognize that the rest isn't serving you (and doesn't taste as good as you thought, perhaps).
- Begin to understand the emotions surrounding your eating patterns. Understanding and awareness are EVERYTHING.
- Self educate on what foods fuel and energize you best and perhaps develop more compassionate purchasing habits.
- Enjoy mealtimes more thoroughly, but also refrain from ascribing too much emotional attachment to certain food choices.
The benefits of mindfulness are vast and will leak into your everyday life, but I invite you to find out for yourself. This area continues to be a work in progress for me. I often find myself scarfing down food because I'm in a rush and then my stomach hurts for the rest of the day and I wonder why I'm anxious. Sloooooow on down. Take a breather. Take your time. Your food and your body deserve that respect.
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