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October 10, 2023
The modern diet and way of living has made it increasingly easy to eat-on-the-go and ‘save time’. We’re always looking for new ways to be more efficient and use our time more wisely, but this takes away from the enjoyment of simple moments. Eating on the run and speeding through lunch may save us time, but it limits the time we have with ourselves and our ability to foster a relationship with self; a relationship that’s hard enough as it is with our dependency on screens.
Mindful eating is about slowing down and savouring food. It’s not about doing 1-hour meditations twice a day, it’s about starting slow and making maintainable steps towards being a little more mindful every day.
Why bother with mindful eating?
Diet culture has made it incredibly difficult for us to understand when we’re hungry or full, and when we’re eating to try to solve another issue.
If you’re feeling out of touch with your hunger cues, try this exercise next time you find yourself with banana bread in one hand and a packet of chips in the other.
Understanding your need and a suitable response is the first step on the mindful eating journey and will help put you in touch with your second brain – your stomach!
Once you’ve identified that you’re hungry (hanger mode: activated), find a comfortable spot to sit down to eat. It’s a known fact that you’ll eat more when you’re standing than when you’re sitting – you’ll know what I mean if you ever find yourself standing in front of your chocolate cupboard at the end of the day!
Put your food on a plate, so you’re able to visualise how much you’re eating; awareness is essential. If you’re working at home, mark the difference between ‘work time’ and ‘break time’ by lighting a candle, closing the computer, playing music and sitting at the dining table. If you’re eating while you’re out, find a comfortable spot to sit, turn your phone down and notice your surroundings.
Be mindful of the way you talk to yourself before you eat. Negative self-talk can actually alter the structure and function of our brain, preventing you from making sustainable life changes, like mindful eating. The most significant judge you’ll ever have in this life is always yourself, so please, be kind. Remember that foods aren’t necessarily good or bad, they’re just foods.
Before you dig in, take three deep breaths with your eyes closed. Inhale deeply until the breath reaches the pit of your belly, and then exhale slowly. This increases present awareness and unlocks your parasympathetic nervous system, which we need for improved digestion.
Try to chew slowly, focusing on each mouthful. If you’re someone who could win a prize for how quickly you gobble down food, put down your fork between bites or try eating with your non-dominant hand. Focus on the delicious flavours and textures of each bite; you can even embrace your internal food critic. Taking small bites give you more chance to enjoy the food you’re eating.
Now that you’re done eating notice how you feel, without guilt or judgement. Ask yourself questions such as do you feel energised and revitalised, sluggish or tired? Observing how you feel after a meal can give you a guide on which foods are more or less beneficial for your body.
Ready for a mindful meal? Start with soup! Soups are great for when you’re starting to eat mindfully, as you’re forced to slow down because of the heat. Once you take your first delicious slurp of my Roasted Pumpkin and Cauliflower Soup, you’ll want to enjoy every single nutrient-rich and warming mouthful.
Roasted Pumpkin and cauliflower soup
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