How To Bring Mindfulness To Mealtimes
How To Bring Mindfulness To Mealtimes
How do you feel about mindfulness? Do you know much about it and how it can benefit you? Or are you a huge fan and practice mindfulness regularly? Either way, you may not be aware that as well as making us feel more present and connected with the world, mindfulness can also be applied to our eating and mealtimes. (If you need a bit more of a guide to mindfulness in general, take a read of our article, What Exactly is Mindfulness?)
Perhaps now is the time to refocus our attention on what we’re eating and when, as we’re all emerging from more than a year either locked down or living under restrict restrictions over what we can do, where we can go and who we can see.
Many of us have felt that we haven’t had as much control over things during this time, and perhaps we’ve normalised eating differently to how we would normally. Working from home, being furloughed or not having work at all has meant that we’ve been living with different patterns and that may extend to our eating patterns.
During lockdown, we might have been a bit freer with what we’re eating, but on the other hand, many of us have been able to better manage our portions and diet. Now that restaurants and bars are opening again, we might be fearful that we’ll go over our limits and we’ll notice that we feel out of sync that way. We might feel like we can’t maintain the same balance with mealtimes outside of the home.
Even if we haven’t changed our habits, eating more mindful has benefits regardless, and here we’re going to discuss mindful eating and how it can be beneficial.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating means eating with your attention focussed on what you’re eating, when and how full you are. It’s based around the following guidance:
- Listen to your body and how it tells you when you’re hungry, and when you’re full
- Only eat when you’re hungry, as opposed to “because it’s mealtime”
- Eat slowly and purposefully, putting your cutlery down between each mouthful and only getting the next mouthful ready when you’ve finished the previous mouthful
- Eat without distraction – no mobile phone, no TV, no reading material – your only focus is the food in front of you
- Engage all senses whilst you eat, not just taste – notice the smell, colour and texture of food
- Take note of when you feel full, and stop eating – save any leftovers for your next meal to avoid food waste
- Notice how your mood and body feel after eating each different meal
The whole concept of mindful eating is to feel more connected to your food and to eat more consciously, rather than with automatic thoughts over how much you need to eat.
Mindful eating isn’t necessarily about losing weight, but eating with more purpose and consciousness may well mean that you eat less and therefore lose weight. It might also mean that you eat more healthy foods, as you begin to notice how certain foods make you feel. If junk food makes you feel bloated, lethargic, guilty and inevitably hungry again soon, think about that mindfully.
Is that how you wish to feel? Could choosing healthier options make you feel happier, less bloated more energised, guilt free and fuller for longer? Focus on how that would make you feel instead.
Finally, feeling grateful for the food you’re eating, and considering where it came from and how it was made will also help to make mealtimes more mindful. Eating mindfully will help to manage emotional eating, where you eat as a response to your emotions (either negative emotions such as sadness or boredom, or as a ‘reward’ for doing something virtuous) as well as so-called external eating. This is where the smell or sight of a certain food will make you feel the need to eat it, even if you’re not really hungry.
And it will almost certainly mean less indigestion related problems too!
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