What is mindful eating?
So often we eat without even thinking of what we're doing. We stuff food into our mouths while working on the computer, watching TV, or when we’re on the run. We’re all busy, I get it. Did you know that when we eat on the run and when we’re stressed digestion actually slows down and can even stop? You need to be in a relaxed state to optimize digestion. When digestion is hampered symptoms like bloating, belching and indigestion can occur.
But the pleasure of eating lies in slowing down and fully experiencing all the elements of food. When we stop and enjoy a good meal, chew each bite and appreciate the food with all our senses, our body takes notice and sends out the proper signals to prepare for digestion. Take some time to explore each of the following during your next meal and notice the difference. The main thing is to have fun, learn something, and understand yourself better.
Think about these the next meal you sit down to.
- SIGHT - Look at your food and imagine where it has come from. Where was it grown, how did it get to your plate?
- SMELL - Bring the food up to your nose. Without naming the scent, experience smelling the food, and then take in and think about what you smell.
- PHYSIOLOGICAL REACTION - Now focus on what’s going on in your mouth. Begin to notice that saliva is produced, even though you haven’t yet put the food in your mouth. Notice the mind-body connection and how your senses respond right before you eat.
- TOUCH – Take a bite. Now notice how the food feels on your tongue. Without naming the sensation, just experience the mouthfeel.
- MOTION AND MOVEMENT - How is it that your hand knows how to move the food directly to your lips? As you bring the food up to your mouth, notice what happens next. The mouth receives the food. Nothing goes into the mouth without it being received. And who or what is doing the receiving? The tongue. Observe what the tongue does with it. How does it get the food between the teeth? It’s amazing that the tongue is so skilled, and that such a remarkable muscle can actually receive food and then know what to do with it every time.
- TEXTURE - As you chew, the taste changes, as does the consistency. At a certain point you’ll become aware of the texture of the food because the taste has mostly passed. If the texture causes aversion, you may want to swallow it, but try to keep it in your mouth.
- SWALLOW - Don’t swallow it yet. Stay with the impatience and the inborn impulse to swallow. Then observe what’s involved in getting the food down to your stomach. When you detect the impulse to swallow, follow it down into the stomach, feel your whole body, and acknowledge that your body is receiving nurturing food.
- BREATHE - Next, pause for a moment or two, and see if you can taste your breath in a similar way. Bring the same quality of attention to the breath that you gave to seeing, feeling, smelling, and tasting the food.
- SILENCE - Be silent. At this point, you probably understand what meditation is. It’s doing what we do all the time, except we’re doing it with attention – directed, moment-to-moment, nonjudgmental attention.
This may be a lot for each and every bite. I know that we are all busy people but have you ever really tasted your food like this? Have you taken the time out to chew and breathe and think about the break down of your food? Our bodies are miraculous instruments and when treated right can perform great feats. One of those is breaking down the food we eat every meal into nutrients to fuel our day-to-day lives.
My challenge to you this week is to try and pick one meal going forward once a week and eat it mindfully. Concentrate on all the senses and the sensations and report back with what you experience. I know that I have had better digestion, better elimination and more energy!
Want to get even healthier? Are you interested in learning how mindful eating can help with your digestive issues? Curious about how health coaching can help you make your own healthy changes? Let’s talk! Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with me today—or pass this offer on to someone you care about! Visit www.noshoesnutrition.com and sign up for a FREE consultation. I work with people from all over the world individually or in groups so don’t let anything hold you back!