5 Essential Tips for Mindful Eating
How often do you find yourself with an uninterrupted mealtime? What does an uninterrupted mealtime even look like?
Today’s society moves so fast that most of us have forgotten what it looks like to be intentional and mindful with our food. In turn, there is a disconnect between the foods we eat and how they make us feel. The premise of mindful eating is similar to the philosophy of mindfulness in general: by becoming aware of the present moment, one can increase focus on their thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. This increased awareness creates a more positive outlook. In mindful eating, one shifts their focus to the experience, feelings, and physical cues that food has the power to create within us. Taking time to connect with our food in this way helps us nourish our bodies in the way that is needed.
Here are five steps you can take to become a mindful plant-based eater:
Step 1: Determine what is driving you to eat
We eat for many reasons: convenience, boredom, emotions, celebration, hunger, enjoyment, and more. Before eating, ask yourself what feelings you are experiencing. By checking in with the internal and external cues of what is driving you to eat, you can make a more conscious decision on what and how much food you need.
Step 2: Create a sacred space for mealtimes
With the right intentions, our mealtimes can serve as a direct connection to the environment around us. However, since we often consume our meals distracted due to the pressures of a busy life, we skip out on this opportunity. Try to make it a habit to limit distractions like multitasking or using your phone, computer, or television during mealtimes as this may cause us to over or undereat. Tune into the present moment and use mealtimes to connect to your food and the people around you.
Step 3: Show gratitude and appreciation for the food you get to experience
Before eating, pause for a second and contemplate everything and everyone that contributed to bringing this meal to your table. Take a moment to focus on the present and silently or verbally express gratitude for the food you have in front of you.
Step 4: Bring all your senses to the table
As you begin to eat, bring awareness to all your senses. Take small bites and chew your food thoroughly and slowly. Notice the color and textures of the foods you are consuming. Observe the flavors of the food—sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. The aroma of the food may trigger certain memories and unlock emotions.
Step 5: Reflect
After mealtime, check in on how you are feeling. Are you still hungry, or do you feel satisfied? Did the meal fill you with energy, or are you left feeling sluggish? Are you experiencing any physical symptoms like bloating, heartburn, or acid reflux? Check on your bodily sensations to determine how the food made you feel. Our goal should be to choose foods that make us feel satisfied, energized, and happy!
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