You've had a long day, you come home and quickly put some food together, collapse onto the couch, flick on the tv and minutes later deposit the empty plate and dirty cutlery onto the coffee table. Sound familiar? Well for many people, that is a familiar night time routine. If that describes the last meal you ate, consider the following questions:
What did the food look like? What were its colours, how did the colours blend as the different food came together?
What were the aromas of the meal? Did it smell spicy? Zesty? Fragrant?
How did it taste? Your first mouthful - was it fresh? Hearty? Light?
The texture - was there a crunch? Was it smooth? Contrasts between the food?
Mindless eating occurs when we lose connection with our food. We eat without awareness of the flavour, we rush and eat more than we need, and we don't enjoy our food as much as we could. Mindless eating makes it difficult to recognise the difference between hungry and non hungry eating,
Mindfulness also allows us to be aware of why we are eating: are we hungry, tired, bored, excited or all of the above?!
In contrast, mindful eating occurs when we pay attention to the eating experience. Considerable research has emerged supporting the importance of mindfulness in the enjoyment of food, portion control and subsequent weight control.
Things you can do to enhance your mindful eating experience:
- Turn off the television.
- Slow down - eating fast means eating more.
- Put your cutlery down between mouthfuls.
- Consider quiet - even if not for the entire meal
- Set realistic goals. You might initially like to commit to eating mindfully to one sit down meal per week.
- Start a herb garden or grow your own vegetables. We pay more attention to our labours of love.
- Chew slowly - whilst not always easy, taking time to chew our food completely slows down the whole experience and increases our awareness.
- Reflect on all the work that went in to getting the food onto your plate: the growers, pickers, truck drivers, store owners .... gratitude for all that contributed to your meal.
- Decorate your environment. Sitting at a table where there has been some level of consideration to its ambience (eg. Candles, music, tablecloth) all adds to the experience.
Above all eating is best experienced as a pleasurable endeavour. Mindful eating will allow you to slow down, maximise the taste, and enjoy your food more.