Mindful Eating

Some of my best childhood memories are of our family dinners. It was always home cooked food and we were not allowed any distractions. We didn’t answer the phone, watch TV or play on an iPad. We all talked about our day and enjoyed the food together. Sometimes we even took the opportunity to say grace and be thankful for the food!

Unfortunately, this scenario doesn’t play out as often anymore.

So often we eat mindlessly. We gobble down food while we’re working at a computer, watching television, or driving the car.

How often do you eat while completing another task?

We don’t actually spend time to enjoy the food or even think about what we’re eating. The problem is that when we eat too fast, on the run or under stress it doesn’t give our stomachs a chance to communicate with our brains.

We aren’t prepared for digestion or for our brain to tell our stomach it’s full. This can cause overeating, digestive issues, gas and bloating.

I get it, this is a tough one! We’re all really busy and it’s so much easier to multi-task while you eat. Please do you body a favor this week and read on! It’s not that bad!!

Tips on how to eat mindfully:

1. Start each meal by taking a few breaths. First of all, it feels amazing to breathe deeply. You will instantly feel more relaxed and more present with your food. Try starting each meal by taking three deep breaths.

2. Honor your food – now before you think this is all woo-woo, just note that this can be in any form you want. Take the opportunity to be grateful for your food. Remember what you’re eating is there to nourish your body. It’s more than just an item you picked up at the supermarket. Say a toast when you’re with others or a simple ‘thank you’ will do.

3. Eat in a calm, distraction free environment. You must sit down! Yes, sit thy rear end down, sir/ma’am! Do not eat standing up. This is hard with small children and hectic schedules, but be disciplined with this. Your body will thank you, your weight will thank you, and your digestion will thank you. Turn off the television, computer, and phone. Spend some time just enjoying the taste and texture of the food. When you take away the distractions you will be more present with the task at hand – eating!

4. Slow down. It takes your body 20 minutes to register that it’s full. If you gobble down your food in 5 minutes you will most likely overeat. Try putting your fork down between each bite and notice how you feel. If this feels like a glacial pace, adjust it accordingly – but the point is to put the brakes on.

5. Chew your food. Most of us tend to kind of’ gnaw on it a bit and then gulp it down. Eating begins with the simple act of chewing. Chewing leads to smoother digestion and greater assimilation of nutrients. That starts with the release of digestive enzymes that break down food. Now I know this next part is going to blow your mind but I HAVE say it: chew every mouthful of food at least 30 times. {sound of your mind being blown}. But yes – thirty, 3-0, pron. Thur-tee. The food should nearly become liquid. Saliva also makes the food more alkaline, which helps with gas. As you do this, think about the taste and texture of the food. YUM!!

Feel like all of this is a lot to remember?

Let’s start with one idea. Over the next week, challenge yourself to shut EVERYTHING down for at least one meal a day. I promise all those distractions can wait 20-30 minutes for you! You might find you are more productive when you give yourself the ability to shut down for a few minutes and enjoy your food!

Reflect on how you feel! Are you relaxed, anxious, or bored? How does this normally impact how you eat? Did you eat less? Did you actually enjoy your meal? Did you realize what you were eating was really not that great for you?

For all you extra credit folks, add this item: the 30-times-per-chew. I’m going to be curious…how hard was it to chew each mouthful 30 times? How much do you normally chew? I would love to hear from you! Let me know how it feels to eat MINDFULLY!

To your amazing health,