This is a continuation of the companion article I wrote for Chapter 8 (Food) of my book Mind and Body Wellness. You can check out the first article “Self-care and Determining What Your Body is Truly Craving” by clicking here.
Mindful eating isn’t just for the holidays but it is a great time to practice. When we practice present moment awareness at mealtime we are able to enjoy our food, company, and digestion better.
The first step is to become aware of your mindset. What kind of mood are you in? Take a few breaths to calm down your mind and body. If we are feeling anxious, sad, or angry, there is a good chance we will try to soothe our feelings with food and lose our intention of being in the present moment. It might help to open a window to let in fresh air, put on calming music, take a quick walk to clear your mind, or simply take a few deep breaths to calm down the nervous system.
Next, give some thought to presentation. Simply lighting a candle and giving thought to the place setting can heighten the dining experience and create a more appealing spread. This may seem obvious but it bears mentioning: sit down. Eating together with friends or family can be a special bonding time. However, even if you are eating alone, take the time to sit down and savor the meal.
Now that we have our mindset and presentation in place, it is time to begin eating. The key is to eat slowly. Chewing at least 20 times allows your body to absorb nutrients from your food better, signals to your brain when you are full sooner, and will improve digestion. Make it a habit to set down your fork or other utensils between bites. Sip water as you go. Eating shouldn’t be a hassle but a dining experience we have the pleasure of enjoying.
Lastly, build your present moment awareness. Savor each bite. Enjoy conversation with those around you. Ask questions and really listen as others share. Instead of following the adage of cleaning your plate, let your body tell you when you are full. In general, I try to fill my stomach ½ with food, ¼ with water, and leave ¼ empty.
I’ve included a mindful eating map below for your reference. You can find more tips and mindfulness eating exercises in chapter eight of Mind and Body Wellness. As always, feel free to email me any questions!