Eating is a natural, healthy, and pleasurable activity for satisfying hunger. However, in our food-abundant, diet-obsessed culture, eating is often mindless, consuming, and guilt-inducing instead. Mindful eating is an ancient mindfulness practice with profound modern implications and applications for resolving this troubled love-hate relationship with food.
Here are some reasons why eating calmly and silently can boost your health:
1. Peace of mind.
When I eat in silence, I find myself at ease and stress-free. Focusing on my body and the food in front of me without having to worry about making conversation or keeping up gives me the opportunity to deeply relax into my dining space and engage all my senses with each bite. For the first time, I can truly pay attention to how something looks on a plate, the delicious aromas wafting into my nose, how something sounds as I cut into it, the crunch between my teeth and the taste.
The intention of eating in silence is to center you for a day of calm and peace, and starting your day with a mindful eating practice fires up each of your five senses, resulting in a clear, focused, creative, joyful day ahead.
2. Weight loss
When I practice mindful eating, I consume about a third of what I normally eat. Why? When I’m not focused on a screen, I enjoy my food more and instantly notice when I’m full. Because I am listening to my body, I stop eating when it tells me it’s had enough rather than ignoring it or missing signals because I’m distracted.
I find it’s much easier to control the amount of food I eat, and I feel more satisfied than when I eat mindlessly.
3. Proper nourishment
Savor the moment. We’re so conditioned to talk, swipe, text, and email while eating, but truly nourishing yourself is more than just what you eat. Nourishment is about sustenance: what you feed your body but also how you fuel your soul. Nurture yourself during meals by being fully present, and truly enjoying your food.
Here are several simple ways you can practice mindful eating:
- Relax the body and mind with a few deep breaths before eating.
- Send gratitude to everyone who prepared your food.
- Admire your food; notice all the shapes and colors.
- Breathe in all the wonderful aromas of the meal.
- Chew thoroughly, delighting in the depths of flavor.
- Relax for a few minutes before moving to the next event.
Mindful eating is a daily commitment and might take some practice. The keys are awareness, nonjudgment and understanding what you’re feeding. Are you physically hungry for food or something else, like love or comfort? When you aren’t distracted, it’s much easier to differentiate between the two, and when you’re aware, you can make healthier choices.