Eating is a fundamental activity that allows our bodies to gain the nutrients and vitamins that we need to function in the day-to-day. But how many of us are actually present when we eat? How many of us are trying to multitask as we eat? How many of us are oblivious to the taste and experience of eating because we are so consumed by other thoughts?
Only when we are mindful in all areas of our life can we really begin to feel less stress, more connected and more aware. Eating is one of those activities that should be practised as a mindful ritual – not only will you find more enjoyment and pleasure from the act of eating but you are also more aware of what you are eating. This is the cornerstone of improving your health, by consciously buying, preparing and eating meals that are in line with what your body requires.
vegies cropped
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating—otherwise known as intuitive eating—is the ability to slow down and eat intentionally. Michelle May MD, founder of mindful eating workshops “Am I Hungry?” believes awareness of food and the eating process is a necessary component to changing behaviour. “Many of the habits that drive overeating are unconscious behaviors that people have repeated for years, and they act them out without even realising it,” Michelle tells Today’s Dietitian. “The process of mindfulness allows a person to wake up and be aware of what they’re doing. Once you’re aware, you can change your actions.”
So how do we bring mindfulness onto our plates?
First we have to acknowledge that what we eat is central to good health. Once we accept this truth, we can then begin to understand why we are often feeling tired, sick, lethargic. We can work towards changing our mindless eating habits and begin to buy and eat food that serves to fuel our bodies in a purposeful way. Once we begin to be more aware of how our food serves as a foundation of living optimally we then begin to approach it different.
The 6 key questions of mindful eating:
Why do I eat? Are you an emotional eater? Do you eat subconsciously? Are you even hungry?
When do I eat? Do you eat three main meals or do you snack constantly? Do you skip meals?
What do I eat? Do you eat lots of sugary snacks or do you eat lots of gluten-free organic foods and paleo snacks?
How do I eat? Do you eat quickly standing up or whilst working at your desk or do you take your time and enjoy your meal?
How much do I eat? Are your portion sizes adequate or do you fill your plate to brimming point and feel obliged to eat it all?
How do I spend my energy? What do you do to burn the kilojoules? Do you have a high-stress job, sit on the couch, chase after your kids or do you do high-impact exercise?
bring mindfulness to your dinner plate
When we start to ask these questions and explore the responses we start to think and behave differently. We start to seek out the right information about our food, where it is sourced and how it is grown. We start to question how it is produced, whether other chemicals, preservatives, additives were used in its production. We begin to ask ourselves whether we care about how the animals were treated and whether the farmers and food workers were paid decently and under safe working conditions. We consider the effects on the environment, food mileage and even the company’s corporate social responsibility program. We start to identify how different foods makes us feel, which ones make us feel sluggish and are best to avoid and which ones gives us boundless energy.
So instead of allowing your autopilot to dictate to you how, when, what and how much you should eat, bringing mindfulness helps to break away from your negative eating patterns and helps you down the road to a more healthy, satisfying and enjoyable relationship with your food, and in fact, your life.
If you need more advice or looking for a tailored eating plan, please contact our team on 07 3399 1002. We’d love to help you achieve your health and wellness goals.