Today we are going to talk about nutrition and why mindful eating should be a priority nowadays to establish a healthy relationship with the food we eat. As we all know nutrition is one of the main foundations of our physical and mental well-being. However, something has slightly changed in the last decade as we are living out relationship with food in the wrong way.
Because of social media, because of the skinny models we see online all the time, we often demonize food as it is our number one enemy. The result? We live our nutrition more as an obstacle than a chance to nourish ourselves and take care of ourselves. Rationally it is known that it is wrong but it is much more difficult to make a real change. Have you ever heard of Mindful Eating to achieve this goal in the field of nutrition?
What is mindful eating
Mindful eating means eating consciously and consists of knowing perfectly the characteristics of what we are about to eat, while enjoying the experience of food with all our senses and consequently have a more authentic and healthy relationship with food.
Think about the last time you ate something like a cookie and your thought about how that cookie was made, what are its main features and focused on its color, smell and taste. We bet this never happened before right?
Sometimes we use food as a comfort as a way to heal our emotional wounds, other times we eat just because we have to, like it was our duty for the day. All this is so wrong and create a distorted idea of what food really is. Plus, if we want to lose some weight, we often blame foods to our latest gains while our habits should be the one to manage and change.
Mindful eating can be the right way to help us understand which food we really prefer, what we need in some specific moments of the day and to distinguish real nutrition from the moments when that food represents different emotions (such as the need for affection). Mindful eating is basically a dynamic different kind of meditation, a practice that is done slowly and this helps a lot to become aware of the real moments of hunger and satiety.
How to practice mindful eating
A practical exercise to get started with mindful eating is made up of many different steps that aim to activate and awaken our senses and our awareness. First, once we sit in front of our meal, let’s focus on our body reacts to it and take a few deep breaths to activate a state of attention and focus on what we are doing in that particular moment. For this first part is so important to turn off your smartphone and all your notifications, turn the tv off and really be present here and now. As you would do in a meditation session.
After that, you can bring your attention on what you see: how does the food we are eating look like? What are its shape and colors? Let’s try to describe what we have before us. It is time to activate the sense of smell, we perceive the scent by bringing the food close to the nose and try to understand what we like better or less than that smell. If we are going to eat a fruit or something to take with our hands we can also use touch, it will give us many physical sensations. A good idea would be to try imagining the food we are about to eat in its natural context. How, for example, a fruit grew up thanks to water, sun, loving caring gestures and how it ended up in your dish right there before you ready to bring its energies and properties in your body. This is a great way to become more aware of our planet as well, more thankful and more open to acknowledge how nature is taking care of us in many different ways.
Finally, we activate our taste. As we chew we try to understand how the taste changes inside our mouth, let’s focus on the path of food and on how it will reach our organs and nourish us from the inside in a natural effective way. In the end, we can ask ourselves if we feel completely satisfied from our meal, if our body has received the right amount of food or what drives us to continue eating. Of course we should use some basic instructions like eating more often but less during the day, choosing natural foods and avoid binge-eating, one of the most dangerous habits of our modern life.
Benefits of mindful eating
If you are intrigued but you don’t know why you should rely on mindful eating here comes a list of the main benefits of this practice:
- You become more aware of what you eat
- You will learn how your body reacts to certain foods and situations
- You will acknowledge the importance of nature in our lives
- You will become more thankful for what you have
- You will leave some stress out from the daily routine
- You will create a healthy habit
- You will improve your digestion
- You will learnt that food is not the enemy. Bad habits are!
If mindful eating still sounds a little bit too tricky for you, simplify the exercise we enlisted before and create your own! You could do it when you have a snack or breakfast, starting with something a little bit easier and handy. You will realize that it will be a real sensory experience, you will perceive sensations that you may never have felt related to food and your body and will definitely change your relationship with food and nutrition for good!