The concept of mindful eating is not new. But we have ignored this ancient, yet scientific and healthy eating method for a long time. Now the time has come to go back to such practices, to ensure that we feed our body - not only with the right kind of food but do it the right way too.
Read to know how mindful eating can help us attain “food-discipline” that we lack in our lives.
Not just what you eat, how you eat it makes a difference in your weight loss attempts and implementing a healthy lifestyle. Yes, you have to maintain a certain discipline, decorum, while consuming your food. There is a name for it - mindful eating.
It is simply about focusing your attention on the food that you eat by concentrating on the texture, taste and being in the moment while you chew your food. Sounds a bit off-beat. But adapting to this kind of habit can do you a whole lot of good.
Most often than not, we stay absent-minded while eating - thinking about finances, deadlines, what to watch next on Netflix (Money Heist new season is coming up) and so much more. It seldom registers our mind - what we are eating and how much we are eating. We hardly allow our brain to recognise the act of eating and relishing the food. This is one of the many reasons why we don’t get the desired results we intend for with all our diet plans and efforts. This is where mindful eating can help us.
What is mindful eating?
This concept of mindful eating is not new. It has been practised since ancient times by our ancestors. But most of us ditched this practice to keep up with our fast-paced lives or remained ignorant about it altogether.
Mindful eating is a technique of concentrating on the food you eat - focusing on the present moment, calmly savouring the food, feeling it and aligning your thoughts and taste with your mind. It is also about taking bodily cues to eat better and the right way, without going overboard. The proponents of mindful eating state that it is a form of meditation where you reach a state of complete attention towards your experiences with food, control cravings and you are aware of other physical sensations. Let us assure you that it isn’t very difficult to practice mindfulness.
But remember mindful eating is not just about sitting and eating your meal in peace at one place; it goes beyond that - it is an entire process that involves everything related to food - what you buy, how you prepare it, how you serve it and the way you eat it.
Here is how you can practice mindful eating the right way
Be attentive to what you buy: When you make your shopping list, don’t just write random items to buy. Choose your food items consciously - consider the nutrient value of every food that you desire to buy and think how it will help your body calm and heal. Choose more natural produce than processed foods. Once you put your mind into it, you become conscious of every aspect of your food and intake. The first step in mindful eating is to choose the right foods that don’t just feed your body but nourish your soul.
Follow your eating routines: Have specific times for your meals - 3 main meals and three snacks and don’t miss out on filling yourself with nutritious food at your specified time. Don’t deprive yourself of nutrition for too long because it can make you ravenously hungry. This can make you turn to food with a fervour to fill your stomach. This will do no good to your body or soul. It might only lead to gorging more calories and probably fats too if you resort to compulsive eating after a long gap of time. Be strict and disciplined with your food routines.
Practice portion control: An essential aspect of mindful eating is portion control or eating in moderation. The idea is to start with a small plate and bowl so you don’t go overboard with your fill.
Pro tip: Limit your plate size to nine inches or less.
Pay close attention to what you eat: Don’t be in a rush to finish everything on your plate. That’s not mindful eating. Instead, while you eat, pause to pay attention to your food - taste, texture, consistency - chew your food slowly. It might be difficult initially, but try to express your gratitude for the food that’s on your plate. Practice this, so it starts to come easily to you. You can also say a silent prayer before you start with your meals.
Take small bites: One way to enjoy your food is to take small bites and chew them properly before swallowing.
Pro tip: Chew every bite to a count of 10 to feel your food holistically.
Eat slowly, chew thoroughly: Yes, we are stressing on this fact to chew your food thoroughly because that will give you the satisfaction of savouring your food and also bring out the essence of different flavours that goes into making a dish.
Feel your food with all your five senses: Try to feel your food - smell, taste, texture, aroma, the different colours on your plate - consciously make an effort to eat with your five senses.
Free yourself from distractions: Remember, we mentioned mindful eating is also a kind of meditation? This is the reason why you should free yourself from all kinds of distractions when you eat - television, smartphone, other gadgets. But we aren’t telling you to isolate yourself from your loved ones. Try and have your meals together - practice mindful eating together - this will give you a higher sense of gratitude and help bond as a family. But keep serious discussions away from the dinner table.
How can it help you?
Wondering how mindful eating can help you? Well, apart from helping you taste your food better, here are a few ways how you can benefit from this practice:
It helps in weight loss: The fundamental reason why most diet programs and weight loss plans don’t work long term is that we put more attention on the food we eat rather than how we eat it. The former leads to mindless eating, ditching the diet plan, giving up quickly - as there are no visible results to show for the efforts put in, while the latter leads to slow but steady progress that not only shows on your waistline but also helps you build a long-term relationship with your food.
Mindful eating helps to change eating habits: Slow eating leads to satiety, induces portion control, which helps in intake of excess calories while fueling the body with proper nourishment.
It helps to avert emotional eating: Emotional eating is a phase where you eat due to stress, mindlessness, or sheer boredom. This is also termed as binge eating. Often, the food you consume while responding to an emotional or stressful stimulus are not healthy nutritious foods but high carb, high fat, and high sugar ones. This leads to weight gain and obesity. Mindful eating can put a stop to such eating behaviours.
It helps correct lifestyle disorders: Mindful eating can help correct other lifestyle disorders such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems by keeping the blood sugar levels in check and promoting weight loss (less calorie consumption).