“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” – Rashaski
How many times have you eaten dinner and failed to notice you were full until you get to the point where you have to unbutton your pants? With Thanksgiving and the holidays around the corner, the likelihood of this happening is imminent. I am here to tell you that if you are unbuttoning your pants after a meal, then you have a whole slew of problems that can be cured with a little bit of focused attention. If you are looking to find a deeper fulfillment and sense of contentment in life, then mindfulness is just what you need!
In a study published in the journal Science in 2010, researchers found that people spend more time mind wandering than attending to the present moment, and this makes them increasingly unhappy. Taking mindfulness to the dinner table (especially this time of year) will help you enjoy your food, lose weight, decrease anxiety, and lift your spirits. You will make smarter food choices and thus live healthier lives. Here are 5 tips for creating a mindful eating environment.
I feel one of the best ways to enjoy something is to create a pleasing environment. Create a calm, peaceful ambiance so that your surroundings aren’t taking away the attention your food needs. That means, turn off the TV, put away the cell phone, and sit down at a table. If you have control over the lighting then dim the lights and maybe put some calm music on in the background for the event.
2. Ample Time
Always allow for an adequate amount of time to eat. If you are rushing, then you certainly will not have the time to pay attention to each bite of food your eating. You will also be more likely to make poor choices like fast food or slopping a quick unappetizing sandwich together, or even worse, you may just eat cookies for lunch! Setting aside time will create the space that mindful eating flourishes in. Prioritize your eating ritual!
3. Indulge Your Mouth
Chewing food feels quite good on the teeth when you take the time to actually feel the sensation of deep pressure on the teeth as they break food down. Chew your food several times on each side of the mouth so that you can give your teeth the proper input it craves. Notice the taste of things by eating one thing at a time. Notice how the temperature feels inside your mouth when you put something cold in it and then how it feels when something hot comes next. Run your tongue across your food and notice the texture it offers you. Just the act of investigating your food with your mouth will be an indulging experience.
4. Smell Your Food
Our sense of smell is packed with such rich benefits. Research suggests that smells can elicit memory, warnings and draw us toward things we need like nutrients. Take the time out to interact with your food through your nose! Smell what you are about to eat. If it pleases you, then it passes the test to enter the mouth, if it doesn’t, then don’t bother eating it.
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5. Prepare Your Food
The act of mindfulness can start as early as food prep. If you are serving veggies take the time to run them under water to clean them. Feel the water running over your hands and vegetables. Rub your hands across the surface of the food and feel the texture and shape of it. Bring the food up to your nose and smell it before and after cooking. Just notice the difference. If you need to stir the food, turn it into a meditative activity in which you swirl the spoon one direction 10 times, then switch directions and watch and feel it swirl the other way! Mindfully arrange your provisions on a beautiful plate so that it is pleasing to the eyes. You will be surprised how fun and calming making dinner can be when you mindfully make your way through the kitchen.
Over 78.6 million adults are considered obese in the United States. Our relationship to food has become a sad state of affairs. We rush from activity to activity and rarely even realize what it is we ate by the end of the day. Countless amounts of useless calories are being shoveled into our bodies and causing weight gain, heart disease, strokes, and illness. It is time that we all begin to care for our bodies and minds before it is too late. Nourish yourself by integrating a more mindful way of life. Your mind and waist line will thank you!
“Mindfulness is the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
1. Killingsworth, Matthew A., and Daniel T. Gilbert. “A wandering mind is an unhappy mind.”; Science 330.6006 (2010): 932-932.
2. Willander, Johan, and Maria Larsson. “Smell your way back to childhood: Autobiographical odor memory.” Psychonomic bulletin & review 13.2 (2006): 240-244.
4. Ogden, Cynthia L., et al. “Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012.”; Jama 311.8 (2014): 806-814.
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