In our current society, eating has become about more than just nutrition. Food is at the center of so many major life events; weddings, baby showers, graduations. With everything going on do we really experience what or how we are eating? Mindful eating is taking the time to use all your senses to experience your food, while listening to what your body needs. This can promote better digestion, better nutrition, better overall health, and a better local economy.
Slowing down is not easy in such an instant world. However, just because technology is instant, does not mean that our bodies have fully adapted to that lifestyle. On average, it takes your brain 20 mins to realize you are full. We are all guilty of snacking while not paying attention, or grabbing a quick meal while running errands. Mindful eating is not something that will work for every person and every meal, but making an effort to mindfully eat one meal a day can change the way you view food. Here are 3 ways you can start your mindful eating journey.
- Sit down to eat. You deserve to relax and enjoy your food!
- Between each bite, try to remember to lay your utensils down. This can help prevent the need to keep taking forkfuls. Enjoy the food you are eating and try to chew at least 15-20 times per bite.
- Make mealtime a distraction-free time. Turn off all screens and enjoy the company of the person (or pet) you are with!
A Mindful Kitchen
Mindful eating starts with a mindful kitchen. For some, having a more organized kitchen can set them up for success. For others it may be ensuring your food is visible by placing them in clear containers, or by meal prepping. Every person has different needs and different bodies, so finding what works best for you is key. A mindful kitchen should feel calm and promote a nourishing environment.
One way you can have a more mindful kitchen is to be aware of where you food comes from. We all know vegetables and meat just don't appear in grocery stores or farmers markets. Supporting local and connecting with the origins of your food can help you to make healthier and more sustainable choices. The term 'Food Miles' can be used to describe the distance in which an item has travelled to get to its final consumption destination. By supporting local you can not only stimulate your local economy, but reduce the amount of food miles that are associated with the food you consume every day. Instead of spending its time on a truck or plane a simple carrot can be bought locally, or even grown yourself!
Connect to your Food and your Family
A great way to eat a mindful meal every day is to plan a family meal. This allows everyone to support each other while getting quality family time in. Mindful eating includes being tuned into the conversations and company around your meal. Being fully present in the experience is key. One way you can do this is by making a certain meal in the day a "screen free meal". You'll be surprised about how much you can learn about the people around you when you sit down to talk with them without distractions. One way you can start introducing mindful eating is to have a family sensory snack.
- Pick 3 vegetables
- Cook enough portions for each family member, and leave a portion of each raw.
- Lay out both the cooked and raw vegetables and try each as a family.
- Focus on the 5 senses; Sight, Touch, Taste, Hearing, Smell.
- How are the vegetables different? How are they the same?
Overall, mindful eating is a great tool to help you gain control of your nutrition, energy levels and your relationship with food. It doesn't have to be stressful, and it definitely doesn't involve restricting food. It's about connecting with yourself, your body, and the way you nourish yourself. Mindful eating does not have to be used for every meal, but it is a great way to get more connected to your food and the people around you.