Slowing down and truly enjoying food is important for both digestive and mental health. Eating mindfully, also known as mindful eating or embracing your innate culinary intelligence, is really important to our physical and mental health. Mindful eating is a way for us to spend quality time with our meals, and learn how to really savor foods.
By slowing down and paying attention to our eating, we are better able to taste the food and it is more gentle on our digestive system. Experiencing all the flavors of the food and eating it slowly allows our body to adjust to amount of food we’re eating- which means we’re more likely to know when our bellies are full and less likely to overeat.
Seems like a lofty goal, I know! So many of us are rushing before, during, and after meals it’s hard to focus on what we eat, nevermind actually sitting down and savoring it! Here are some tips from us here at VWJ to cultivate a better relationship with our meals, and learn to make some space for eating.
1. Create food habits
Food habits doesn’t have to mean that you eat the same foods every day (though for some that might seem appealing!), but it will give you some time of focus on eating rather than preparing the food. If you make the same breakfast everyday you don’t have to stress about WHAT to eat, and you can give yourself a few extra minutes to sit and actually enjoy the food that is going to fuel your day. Setting aside time to prepare a proper lunch or dinner, or batch cooking, can help ensure you’re not rushing when it comes to meal prep.
2. Create rituals for mealtime
Setting a time each day for eating will help your body ready itself for digestion. But it also prepares our brain. Maybe it’s putting on an apron, or setting the table, or just lighting a candle, but making a ritual of mealtimes lets us remember the importance of creating and enjoying a good meal, together or alone.
3. Avoid distractions
Turn off the television, put away the newspaper, ignore your smart phone, and just eat. It’s harder than it sounds, but ultimately allows you to tune into those flavors and sensations much better than if you are focused on the latest episode of John Oliver (guilty!). If you have other humans to share mealtimes with, turn off devices and connect with each other, or enjoy the quietude of their presence.
4. Avoid eating on the run
This might be the most important point, especially during the busy holiday season. Whether you are in your car, on the bus, or at your desk – wherever you are, you are probably NOT focused on eating, which means your body is not ready to eat, either. Driving, commuting, and working are often low-level stressful situations in which our bodies are primed for fight-or-flight, not for digestion. Try to take some time for a sit-down meal at a table. Make a date with your partner, coworkers, or family to sit and enjoy.
These are by no means the only solutions towards mindful eating, but hopefully they will get you thinking about some of the ways in which you can become more tuned in to your daily eating rituals. Good luck!
What food rituals do you enjoy? Are you able to find time to sit down and enjoy your meals? What suggestions do you have for mindful eating?
Soup image by Henrique Félix and meal image by rawpixel on Unsplash
I find that an important consideration in eating mindfully is the energy we put into and receive from food. If we prepare our meals with intention, love and joy, they will provide similar nourishment in return. Conversely, if we are rushed, stressed, distracted or upset during meal preparation, our food will not be able to provide the warmth and comfort that truly nourishes.
This is particularly important this time of year when stress levels run high and large family meals are the standard.