The experience of mindful eating is about so much more than food.
When you sit down to a meal, your environment and your company are almost as important to your enjoyment as the food. Where you are, who you’re with and what you’re doing (besides eating) all play important roles in your eating experience. In our go, go, go culture, it’s easy to lose sight of the non-food parts of eating, which can lead to problems down the road.
So many of us eat while distracted.
Eating while driving, eating while working, eating while watching TV– distracted eating has become the norm. Even if you’re sitting next to your husband/wife/girl/boy/friend, if you’re watching TV or on your Ipad, it’s pretty much like you’re eating alone.
When you eat while distracted, you’re missing out on huge pieces of the eating experience. You’re not pay attention to where you are. You’re not paying attention to who you’re with and, most importantly, you’re not paying attention to the food that’s going into your mouth or your inner hunger and satisfaction cues. You eat what’s in front of you and think about it later, as opposed to thinking about it now and eating what your body is asking for.
Mindful eating is the opposite of distracted eating.
When you’re eating mindfully, you’re aware of the food you’re eating– savoring every bite. You’re aware of your company and of your surroundings. You’re also more aware of your own inner body cues telling you when you’ve had enough, or when you need some more.
Here are 5 tips to create a more mindful eating experience so that you can tune into your inner body cues and truly enjoy your food.
1. Pick a location away from distraction.
Eat in the dining room or out on the porch– away from the coffee table and the television. Pick a place where eating and conversation are the only things you have to focus on.
2. Set a beautiful place.
When you’re using nice plates and napkins, you’re more likely to savor your eating experience than when you use plastic plates and paper towels (unless you’re outside:)) Find some place mats, plates and napkins with cool patterns or bright colors — these props can make any meal more special with very little effort.
3. Plate your food like a photographer.
I always enjoy my meal more when it looks pretty on my plate. Take some time to arrange your food as if you were going to take a picture to blog/tweet/instagram to the world. Just think about how often you find yourself drooling over the pictures in your favorite cookbook. Adding this extra care and mindfulness into your food preparation is a form of self-care: you deserve to eat beautiful, healthy food.
Slow down and make sure to chew your food. The number one problem with distracted eating is that you tend to eat too fast. Making a point to really chew your food will slow down the meal and help your body catch up. When you eat slowly, your inner body cues come through more clearly.
5. Breathe between bites.
Take a moment between bites to enjoy your surroundings: your location away from distraction, your beautiful place setting and the healthy food on your plate. Take a breath and enjoy your company and contribute to the conversation.