Have you ever taken a look at how you eat? No, not just lifting the fork and shoveling food in your mouth (guilty). But how fast or slow do you eat? Do you finish your meal within five minutes? What else are you doing? What are you thinking about?
Or how about… what types of food are you feeding yourself?
The average American eats way too much processed and fried foods, sugar, saturated fats, sodas, etc. Very little nutrition, and lots of calories, sodium, and preservatives. This has resulted in a society laden with obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
We could choose to blame the problem on the restaurant industry, or the advertising industry, but really the problem is in mindless eating. We eat because we’re stressed out, tired, or need to feel loved.
We eat while driving, reading, working, watching TV, and we barely notice what we’re eating. But food becomes who we are. Food doesn’t just appear on our plates. It takes energy to grow, harvest, prepare and transport. Unfortunately we tend to skip out on this, and pay more attention to screens and multitasking.
What can we do to remedy this? Learn to eat mindfully. Use eating as a form of meditation. We can slow down and pay attention to the food that is going in our mouths rather than staring at a screen. When we do sitting meditation, we drop all other activities and just focus on our breath. For eating meditation, we do the same. Drop everything and focus on one thing: eating.
How to Eat Mindfully
- Just Eat. Stop multitasking by scrolling through Facebook while eating (guilty) and create some space for eating. Clear your table, sit down, and just eat.
- Notice your body. Are you hungry? Does your stomach rumble? Are you tired, depressed, anxious? Or are you happy and excited?
- Think about where your food came from. Who grew it? Who transported it? Did you prepare it? Be grateful for these things.
- Notice its physical qualities. The color, texture, smell. Is your broccoli bright green and tender? Is your rice soft and flavorful?
- Stop between bites. Chew one bite, swallow, breathe, enjoy. Repeat. Try to make your meal last twenty minutes.
- Consider the taste. Savor the taste and texture. Is the food soft, chewy, sweet, salty? What has been added– salt, sugar or fat? How does this food make you feel after eating it? Consider what nutrients are in the food and how it’s nourishing your body.
You’ll start to notice that food tastes better when your attention is focused. You’ll eat less because you’re not distracted. You can actually learn to love healthy foods when you sit down and savor.
We can start living healthier lives when we are more mindful of what we have, understanding what we put into your body and how it becomes us.
“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” – Zen Proverb