Mindful Eating – Changing the Way We Think About Food

J-16In today’s fast paced world with pressure to balance work, family, social life, physical activity, and anything else life throws at us, food is often an afterthought.  Many times this leads to quick but unhealthy food choices and overeating. When life is buzzing around it creates stress. Stress then leads to high calorie cravings. You give in to the cravings, eat more than you truly needed and are on to the next task. You may not have even realized what you just ate, leaving you unsatisfied and unsatiated. So you eat more. And the cycle continues.

It’s time we incorporate the eating experience into our daily lives in a meaningful way.

It is important to be mindful of the entire eating experience. Eating mindfully is slowing down and appreciating what, why, where, and how we are eating.  It’s redirecting our thoughts from past and future concerns into recognition of the present moment.  It’s increasing awareness of what is happening now. This may seem difficult to do in this busy world, where 5 minutes may be all that we have to eat a meal. But, what’s great about mindful eating is that there is no time limit. There is no right or wrong way to eat mindfully, so long as the focus is on the eating experience. If you only have 5 minutes to eat, make that 5 minutes worth it.

So, how can we eat mindfully?

First, stop and think.

  • What are you eating? Is it a snack or meal? Fruit or vegetable? Food or beverage?
  • Why are you eating? Are you hungry? Are you preparing for a long day? Do you need an energy boost?
  • Where are you eating? Are you at home? Work? On the go?
  • How are you eating? Are you eating slowly or quickly? Loudly or softly?
  • Most importantly… do you even notice the sensory characteristics? What does it taste like? Smell like? Look like? How is the texture?

This may seem silly. The answers seem logical, common sense even. Yet, most of us don’t even think about them. We simply eat and go about our day. It’s important to slow down and enjoy the food and appreciate it for what it is and what it means for us in that moment, even if it’s just focusing on how the food smells and tastes.

In some cases, food may simply be a means to provide our body with energy. Other times, it may be consumed for a health benefit, as a source of pleasure, associated with family and culture, or represent something else entirely. What is important is that we recognize these things and celebrate all that food is and can be in our daily lives.

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf

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And one can only dine well if eating is mindful.

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