Recently, whilst eating out at a large and very busy restaurant, I looked around at the diverse group of patrons and noticed a significant number of diners on their phones, mindlessly stuffing bite after bite into their mouths before they’d even finished the last bite.
It made me think that if people were more engaged with what they were eating and the company they were with, would they enjoy their meals more and would it perhaps, make a difference to the obesity epidemic in Australia? What would happen if they were mindful eaters?
Mindful eating is the practice of being aware of what we are eating. Listening to our body. Sometimes it takes time for the brain to catch up to the stomach which can lead to overeating if we don’t stop and listen to our body’s signals. Mindful eating increases our awareness of how hungry we truly are and appreciating the flavour, texture and nourishment of the food we are eating. Savouring every bite instead of ploughing down what’s on our plate and finishing it before we realise it’s even all gone!
It allows us to pay attention to how the food makes us feel – our emotions and mood. Are we eating because we are stressed, bored or angry or are we nourishing our body with goodness because our brain is sending us signals it needs energy? There is some evidence that as people adopt mindful eating habits, they find it easier to lose weight.
Try these three tips to start mindful eating today.
- Eat Slower. Meal times should be enjoyed. Take your time to savour every bite and finish each mouthful before taking the next. Let your food take a journey through your body, starting in your mouth. Feel the texture, taste the flavours and enjoy every bite.
- Listen to your brain, not your gadgets. Turn off your gadgets and TV and allow your brain to talk to you. Allow it time to catch up to your stomach and it will tell you when you are full. If you do this, you will not over eat.
- Eat for nourishment. By thinking about what and why we are eating, we are more likely to choose healthier options. Scoffing down a chocolate bar because you’re angry at a colleague or spouse, is only hurting your health. Mindful eating will make you stop and think about healthier ways to resolve your emotions rather than chomping down on a sugar laden snack.
Try mindful eating as a way to appreciate yourself. Your mind and body, your health and happiness. It doesn’t need to be another commitment we need to make which sets us up for failure. Simply stop and think and enjoy your food as it’s meant to be enjoyed.