Mindfulness And Food —How We May Have Lost The Connection And 5 Steps To Rebuild It

How something long before our time and help us transform our way of eating, and diminish weight gain for good.

Is this statement too bold? Perhaps to someone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure of practising it regularly. Let me ask you, have you been caught up in a situation where you forgot the food eaten just a few hours ago? Were you preoccupied with something, like work or a deadline and shoved in any old thing to stop the rumbling? 

You are not alone on that one. 

I’ve lost count of how many times this has happened to me. It just happened today! A 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture states that the average American spends two and a half hours eating a day, but more than half the time, we’re engaged in something else too. We are usually driving, reading, working, watching TV, on our laptop or with some device in our hand. This behaviour leaves us susceptible to forgetting what we just ate (and how much of it, mind you). Welcome to the world of mindless eating — a lack of awareness of the food we’re consuming. Disturbingly, this may be the very contributor to the national obesity epidemic, as well as a multitude of other health issues, states Dr Lilian Cheung, a nutritionist and lecturer at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

What does it take to be mindful?

Mindfulness isn’t as hard as people believe it to be.What’s required is just awareness and acceptance of your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. Mindful eating is not only about building awareness of ourselves; it’s also about considering how eating affects the world, as well as our bodies. Although this concept applies to a whole-food diet rich in nutrient value, let’s not miss out on a decadent piece of chocolate cake or a hearty cheat meal. There is still room for mindfulness in this respect — we are the only human. In its full glory, mindful eating means to be fully aware of the foods you are eating, from the point of purchasing, preparing, cooking, serving, eating or storing them for the next day’s meal. When we think about the ritual of purchasing, preparing, cooking and eating, we suddenly realise just how much effort we are making to nourish our bodies. It’s a ritual we must do, but one that will help us combat disease, keep us in good shape and assist with longevity. 

As I write this, I think about my food preparing rituals.

When I’m tired or overworked, I see meal making as a chore, yet something essential. I don’t want my family eating processed junk food. It goes against my values for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Then another side of me comes out when I have time and can put in the effort to make a wonderful meal or dessert. Anyone lucky enough to eat will feel the amount of love and kindness that has gone into its preparation. 

You might be thinking, how does it affect weight loss in such a profound way?

To give you a prominent example here, before I started to use fasting as a lifestyle, I was caught up in the habit of eating mindlessly. I was constantly chewing something when stress started to overpower me. It was my own soothing, safety mechanism, leading me to put on weight. 

This is the power of mindless eating.

We can spend years just putting things into our mouths without any awareness of it. That’s when the weight starts to accumulate, and health problems surface. It can be an excruciatingly hard thing to call yourself out on, but once you allow yourself to become aware of the problem, things start to shift.Again, this is where awareness comes in. Awareness of what you are doing, and then acknowledging it helps to eliminate the power it has over you. Follow some of the strategies below next time you eat, and commit to practising them for the next 30 days. I guarantee you will finally get a hold of these habits and transform your relationship with food. You may even lose some weight in the process! 

One: Eat slowly.

Take the time to sit down somewhere in which you can eat your meal.As hard as it is with little people around, or work deadlines, commit to switching off and taking yourself and the plate out somewhere in nature, in a room by yourself, or at a cafe. Although it’s unrealistic not to eat at your desk, do try to eat mindfully at least 3 -4 times per week.Once you start to enjoy it and find that digestion issues eliminate, you will want to keep doing this every day. I never eat when I’m stressed or on a deadline. I wait until it’s over, then indulge in my meal — stress-free.

Two: Chew slowly and with intent.

I got the following quote from Jay Shetty’s book (Think like a monk) Repeat this mantra when you are chewing “Drink your food and chew your drink.” What that means is chewing your food into liquid form. When it comes to drinking, savour every sip you take for as long as possible.

Three: Bring in the senses of sight, sound and Feeling.

As you are buying, making and preparing your meal, pay attention to all the different colours, smells, and sounds other foods make when they are sizzling.Notice the difference in colours from dark to light. Try this little food game as you chew. Try to identify what veggies and seasoning in the foods.

Four: Take smaller bites;

Extreme hunger sees you shovelling large pieces in your mouth. Kindly resist the urge to do this because it will leave you with pockets of uncomfortable wind in your gut and inflammation. Keep the gut happy.

Five: Don’t eat when you are starving — try only to allow yourself the feeling of hunger

Being too hungry can leave you feeling less desire to eat mindfully. You will want to get the food down as quickly as possible to quench that hunger.This is the stage most of us overindulge or overeat;Allow a bit of flexibility with eating, and maybe have some snacks around. That always helps tie me over until the next meal. Try to add one day a week to your schedule to practice mindful eating. Shop and prepare food with love and awareness, cook and serve with abundance. It only takes a few minor tweaks to your lifestyle.

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