By Sarah Hoile – Naturopathy student, Adelaide
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
A growing body of research suggests that our attitudes and practices around meals and mealtime rituals may be just as important as the foods we actually put into our mouths.
The aim of mindful eating is to foster an awareness of our physical requirements for food, (our hunger signals), and base our meals around these physical signals rather than emotional ones — like eating for comfort.
Signs that you may be eating mindlessly include:
- Eating until you are too full
- Eating when you are bored, stressed or anxious rather than hungry
- Grazing on food without really tasting it
- Mindlessly snacking while zoned out in front of the TV
- Eating meals at the same time each day even when you’re not hungry
- Not paying attention to your hunger signals and skipping meals
Michelle May MD, author of the book Am I Hungry? describes mindful eating as eating with intention and attention:
- Eating with the intention of caring for yourself
- Eating with the attention necessary for noticing and enjoying your food and its effects on your body
Mindful eating may help to reduce overeating, increase your enjoyment of the food you eat and improve your digestion.
When we are truly aware of what we are eating, when we need to eat it, and why we’re eating it, we begin to make the shift toward nurturing and nourishing ourselves.
Top 5 tips for mindful eating
- Before you sit down to eat, ask yourself if you’re really hungry. Are you eating because it’s “lunch time” or are you eating because you’re actually hungry?
- Slow down! Eating is not a race. Take the time to savour and enjoy your food.
- Prepare as many of your own meals as possible. Touching, tasting and smelling food before you eat prepares the body for digestion which may prevent overeating and improve your psychological relationship with food.
- Set aside time to sit down and eat your meals. Multitasking at meal times makes it difficult to savour your food and eat with intention.
- Remember, food is meant to nourish our bodies. When we eat an abundance of fresh seasonal healthy food, our body receives the fuel it needs to operate at its best, making us feel more vibrant and energised. The same is true when we fuel our bodies with junk- we truly do get out what we put in. Take a moment to observe to the difference good food makes to your mood and overall vitality.