Do you remember Elizabeth Gilbert from Eat, Pray, Love saying she used to enjoy food but doesn’t anymore? Same as Elizabeth we often let our busy schedules run every part of our lives, including food intake.
Mindful eating is like yoga for your stomach. You learn to acknowledge your presence, listen to your body, and, most importantly, enjoy the food. And that is what it’s all about.
Here are some tips on how you can start practicing mindful eating:
1. Taste your food
Become aware of your food intake and tune in to your body sensations. What’s the flavor of your food? Is it sweet or salty, sour or spicy, are you satisfied with what you’re eating? Keep in mind that healthy food can be tasty and enjoyable too.
And that’s another thing:
2. Add flavor
If you choose to eat healthy but completely tasteless food all the time, you won’t be able to enjoy it, and your body will eventually seek compensation. As a rule, to make up for the lack of taste we turn to sweet treats or saturated fat foods. Luckily, there are spices that “spark” food the healthy way: turmeric, cumin, fennel, ginger, coriander, cardamom. They are also irreplaceable when it comes to gut health.
3. Eat at the table
Our imagination has no limit when it comes to the way we eat. Seems that it works great lying down, standing up and even running to work. Sitting down for a meal makes us slow down a little. And slowing down means having more time to enjoy what you eat.
4. Use smaller plates and take smaller bites
We tend to overeat when we are hungry. All because we eat too fast, often swallow food without chewing. Yet, if you chew slowly you realize that you’re completely satisfied sooner and with a smaller portion. Also, on the plus side, taking smaller bites benefits your digestion.
5. See what works
Yet another healthy diet that works for some won’t necessarily work for everybody. Even the healthiest foods may not work for you and, on the contrary, cause symptoms of gas, bloating or energy crash by mid-day. Figure out what foods keep you both nourished and satisfied.
6. Eat away from distractions
You pay more attention to what and how much you eat when you’re not entertained by electronic gadgets, books or conversations. Eating mindfully means focusing on your food. With every bite really taste it and try to guess every ingredient in your meal.
7. Use the tableware you like
Here, let me paint a picture. Imagine moving into your new rental stuffed with old unsightly cups and plates that someone left behind. Using them may cut the joy of your eating experience in half. Whereas, nice china given to you as a gift or something you bought, tableware with positive associations will make mealtime much more enjoyable.
8. Get the hint
We are one with our body. It knows when you’re full or hungry, or thirsty. And our job is to listen to its signals. It feels liberating to stop thinking that we know better than our body and simply trust our own inner instincts.
9. Show appreciation
See food for what it is, without judgement. Mindful eating is about eating healthy and tasty food that makes you feel full and satisfied. Depriving yourself of the food you love and constant judgement will eventually backfire in a form of cravings and binges. Co-existing with food in harmony and treating it with respect is the key.
Learning to enjoy your food more goes hand in hand with learning to enjoy your life more. And it’s something definitely worth trying.