Hello my fabulous readers! I am going to deliver you guys my two cents on a very important idea…something I personally encourage everyone to make an attempt in practicing. This is going to be a mini multi-part series that I want to share with you guys. It is concerning the idea of mindfulness.
Being mindful allows you to be fully aware of all that is presently going on around oneself. There are several different dimensions that we can take a look at with this, but for this first part I want to discuss the topic of mindful eating.
This is one of the most important tips to engaging and maintaining a healthy diet. In this case, when we practice the art of mindful eating, we are aware of the look, texture, taste, smell, etc. of what we are consuming.
One of the biggest issues I see in society is that most of us live a daily fast-paced life, and when it comes to our meals and snacking, it is out of convenience and fast. We take about 5-10 minutes and scarf down a meal quickly before going on to our next task. Or the other downfall: we eat fast with company surrounding oneself, and we are too busy engaging in conversation we don’t even pay attention to what we are putting into our mouth. Where did the joy in eating go?
What are the benefits to this practice? They are countless. Most importantly, we become aware of the amount of food we are taking in. Since this practice forces us to take our time to consume our meals, it allows the “fullness” signal to reach our brain before it is too late, and we risk that sluggish “food coma” feeling. Additionally we will become more aware of what exactly we are putting into our bodies. We will also gain a greater appreciation for a variety of flavors when we pay attention to every little detail, as well as the food itself. Not everyone has a the opportunity to have access or even afford to eat the food we indulge in on a daily basis – never take this for granted. This is also a great way to help achieve or maintain your goal weight, as you will be less likely to take in empty and sporadic calories throughout the day. Once you gain greater awareness, you will be less likely to dine out too — this will help save some of that $$$!!
A final big benefit from this practice is that it will help prevent and decrease the likelihood of stress and emotional eating — which many of us can be at fault for, especially during the holidays.
How do we practice this art?
First and foremost, one should try and utilize as many senses as possible, and make your meals almost as a ritual.
Sit in a peaceful place, try to make it as stress-free as possible — yes, this means put away your laptop, turn off the t.v., and yep put that smartphone away. Now let’s focus on some of our main senses:
Observe your food, look at the variety of colors and shapes, smell the blend of scents coming from it, take a look at the texture. Truly take a good look at what you are about to consume.
Try to Recall and review each ingredient that makes up your meal. As you gain more practice you will be able to tell what is good CLEAN quality, versus highly processed junk.
Take a bite, and Chew Slowly. With each chew pay attention to every detail within the flavor and texture.
Each time you swallow, take a second to think about the path your food takes from your mouth down your esophagus, into your stomach, intestines, etc. Each morsel undergoes a different process in being broken down/ absorbed in each organ / stage of your digestive tract. I know, it is crazy when we realize how many details and processes go into digesting just one little morsel of food!
Let us use an apple as an example:
First grab an apple, hold it in your hand and think about the texture. Is it hard and smooth? Or is it slightly soft? Is it bright green, a deep red ,bright red, etc? What about the size? Is it perfectly fitting the palm of your hand,, or is it so big that your hand can barely grasp the entire thing (mmm that sounds like a big Honey Crisp apple to me!).
One you have made visual observations, go ahead and slowly bite into the apple. This about the level of crispiness it is, did the juices stay well intact, or did you get some dripping down beside your chin? And most importantly, think about the level of tartness / sweetness that bite is. Do not swallow just yet, give it a few more chews to thoroughly examine every little detail. Repeat this for each bite. Truly savor the experience
Once you finish that apple, you will be more likely to have a higher level of satiety, and you will grow an appreciation for the food you are fueling your body with.
When you become more aware of what you put into your body, the more likely you will want to fuel it with clean and healthy options – increasing your overall health status and decreasing risk of sickness and disease.