Moving on with our mindfulness theme for this week, mindful eating is a mindfulness exercise that sounds too simple to be true. Just think about it, “How can eating be mindful? And how can mindful eating help me in any way?” Let’s try to figure out ways in which food can be helpful in being more than just nutritious.
Why is being in the present important while eating?
We eat while at home, at work, or even while we are traveling. We tend to forget about ourselves due to the pace of life these days. Taking a few minutes off and eating mindfully helps us reconnect with ourselves, with our mind, body, and helps us to be in the here and now. And this helps us to keep our mind and body in sync with good health. Like most mindfulness exercises, it is actually, a form of meditation.
Mindful Eating- How Does it Help You?
The mind-body connection in eating behavior has a very complex role to play. Biologically speaking, it reduces the digestive stress that we go through due to the changing eating habits. Paying attention to what you are eating, how you are eating it, gives you a sense of awareness of the present moment, without trying to think of any ideas about what’s going on around you.
Physiologically, because your mind is so aware of what you are eating, it knows exactly when you are full. It listens to your digestive organs clearly and receives messages from them when it is enough. As a result, you eat just enough, not less and not more. That also helps reduce craving for food. Studies have been done where eating a few raisins mindfully has shown equal satisfaction levels as eating a box full of raisins without paying attention to them. Needless to say, it helps in weight management and good eating habits too.
The Mindful Eating Exercise for the Day:
Let’s start with a basic mindful eating exercise by focusing on the smallest meal of the day that can comprise of just a fruit, biscuit, a toast, or any snack of your choice, maybe in the morning or evening:
- Start by focusing on the texture and the temperature of the snack. How does it feel, what does it look like; you might notice details that you have never observed before
- As you take your first bite, pay attention to how the snack feels on your tongue
- Slowly move to the taste as it settles into your mouth
- Focus on the sensations in your mouth as you chew your snack
- Eat slower than usual so as to allow the food to be chewed properly (this helps easy digestion of food)
- Feel your food pass through your throat into the stomach
- Pay attention to how you’re breathing while you’re swallowing your food
- Try to eat in silence (we understand this might not be possible all the time)
- Most of all, make sure to enjoy your food
Even if you do this for a just one small snack a day, it can help you greatly to achieve a healthier mind-body connection. We would be happy to receive your feedback and comments on how this has helped you in the smallest possible way.
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Image Credit: Greencolander
Post Contributed by: Bijal Oza worked as a Counselor and Psychologist at Inner Space – A center for counseling and psychological assessment.