As we are all trying to be healthier, let’s take a moment to breathe and be aware of all that is around us. In today’s world with all of our societal pressures and fast paced living, much of our eating happens automatically. We often don’t notice how much food is on our plate or how much we have just eaten. Instead much of what we eat is driven by external cues, such as plate size, the people we are with, advertising or portion size, rather than our own internal regulation. Eating mindfully is something that is foreign to many of us. In fact, sometimes we desire to get healthy or fit at any cost and don’t necessarily care about how we get there or what we put in our mouths as long as we get to our end result. So, what does it mean to be mindful? In the new national best seller, “Savor” by Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Lilian Cheung, mindfulness is “being completely aware of what is happening in the present, being fully aware of all that is going on within ourselves and all that is happening around us, from moment to moment, without judgment or preconceived notions.” Mindful eating is paying attention to the food we are eating, the taste, the texture, the smell, the amount, our hunger and fullness signals and most of all our enjoyment of the experience of nourishing our bodies. Practicing mindful eating has the potential to transform people’s relationship with food and to improve overall health, self-esteem and body image.
Are you a mindful eater? Are you raising a mindful eater? Ask yourself…
…and see if you pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you!
- I often disregard my body’s hunger and appetite signals.
- I am NOT very aware of what and how much I am eating.
- I often eat until I feel overly full.
- I am often ravenous before meals. (Which meals, in particular?)
- I ignore hunger pangs when it is not time to eat.
- My body’s hunger signals cannot be trusted.
- I often engage in mindless eating.
- I do NOT know what it feels like to be hungry.
- I do NOT know what it feels like to be full.
- I rush through meals and find I never really taste my food.
- I am NOT conscious of what I order when I eat out i restaurants.
If you answered ‘yes’ to many of these questions above, a mindful eating practice could greatly benefit you… and eventually you kids who are modeling their eating behaviors and habits after you!
“Single Bite” Exercises: 5 Simple Mindful Eating Exercises
- As you bring food to your mouth, slow down and become aware of your movements.
- Once the food is in your mouth, clear your hands. Put silverware or remaining food down.
- Chew this bite with your mind in laser-sharp focus on the process. Concentrate on the taste of the food and the act of eating. Don’t do anything else while you’re chewing. Simply chew and pay attention.
- Keep chewing until the food is uniformly smooth. Use this consistency of the food as a signal to swallow.
- After you swallow, but before you bring more food to your mouth, rest for a few seconds, thereby inserting a pause into your eating.
See if mindful eating makes a difference. Take time to notice the food around you and your body’s signals. Does it make eating more enjoyable? Are you truly hungry? Are you eating for other reasons? As you begin the new year take a moment to take a deep breath and become aware of the food you put in your mouth. You may learn new things about why and when you eat that may help you understand how to make some of those nutrition and lifestyle changes you’ve wanted to make.