When was the last time you really savoured your food? Do you find that you’re often in a rush in the morning, scoffing down your toast whilst finding your clothes for the day and making your lunch at the same time? Or you might even be eating it in the car in peak-hour traffic? Does multitasking at work with lunch and your e-mails sound familiar?
Food is the main source of energy that we get and it is vital that we absorb all we can from it using a digestive system that is functioning optimally. Eating mindfully, being present with the food and really savouring the tastes, smells and textures, helps us to do this. It can:
- improve your digestion, particularly because chewing produces saliva which starts to break down the food in your mouth
- reduce your overeating because it takes 20 minutes for your brain to realise that your stomach is full
- help you be satisfied with less because you can trust yourself to feel satisfied after a couple of blocks of chocolate rather than the whole block
So, how do we mindfully eat?
- Start small: Choose one meal or snack a day with which you will be mindful of and build from there.
- Avoid multitasking: Remind yourself that eating is important, it is something that you are doing now, and the other things, including watching TV or reading a book, can wait whilst you are being present with your food.
- Only eat at the table: This will help you focus on your task at hand, which is eating, and not walking around doing something else.
- Breathe: This seems like a given but by taking a conscious breath, we bring ourselves to the present, which will help us to eat mindfully.
- Appreciate the appearance: Before you eat, allow yourself to drool over the food.
- Focus on each mouthful: Savour the aroma, the taste, the texture, the sensations and feelings that the food triggers in you. Does it bring you back to your grandmother’s kitchen? Does it make your throat feel warm?
- Chew: Take your time to thoroughly chew your food. Feelings of food lumps going down your throat is a sign more chewing is needed.
- Use cutlery and put it down between mouthfuls: Eating with cutlery makes each mouthful smaller and more digestible. Between each mouthful, putting your cutlery down gives yourself time to finish chewing and swallowing a bite of food before the next bite.
- Eat quality food: Eating quality food means that you will enjoy it more, be more satisfied and eat less.
The best time to have breakfast is between 7-9am, which is the time when your Stomach energy is strongest. I really enjoy having breakfast early in the morning, when the world is still quiet outside, and at this time of year, the sun is casting its first orange rays of light on the world – a great time for practicing mindful eating!