“I’m really looking forward to that home made cookie at lunch time!” you think to yourself as you get to work. At last, it’s break time after a busy morning. Woop! You grab your treat and take a bite. It tastes soooo good. Savouring the moment you take another. Also delicious. Then another. You then glance down at your phone and end up checking your messages. Finding yourself a little distracted, your attention moves and before you know it, your cookie has disappeared. What happened to it? You’re left with a few crumbs that you try to rescue and a mere memory of the taste of something you had been looking forward to the whole morning. “Hmmm, maybe I should have another?” you think. Round 2.
Hands up who has experienced this? I know I have. Daily.
I start to eat. I’m fully engaged and then my mind starts to wonder. I look down and my meal is gone!
Whether it is a cookie or a full meal, it’s common. You sit down, ready to enjoy a meal and before you know it, you’ve inhaled it or have been so distracted that your body has not processed that you have eaten. You then find yourself not quite satisfied and then reaching for more.
How do we change this?
Bringing awareness to the table has huge benefits including:
- A more enjoyable eating experience.
- Appreciation for what you are eating and where it has come from.
- Weight loss. Your body will acknowledge that you have eaten and you will feel full longer, which will stop you from reaching for more when your body does not need it.
- Distinguishing if you are really hungry or are eating emotionally.
Mindful eating is when you’re fully aware and you are making a conscious decision to eat. Meal time becomes an intentional process rather than an automatic response. For humans, eating three meals a day and living to age 80 would mean 87,600 meals in a life time! Wouldn’t want to be able to savour every single meal instead of rushing through them?
So how do I bring awareness to my eating habits?
1. Find a quiet spot
Free of distractions and technology. Somewhere you can sit and enjoy your meal without feeling rushed or guilty. This may not always be practical particularly at work but even doing this for breakfast can be a game changer.
Check in with yourself. Are you really hungry? Or are you eating just because it’s lunch time or you’re feeling tired or a little off balance?
2. Appreciate where your meal has come from
Your meal may have travelled across the world to get to you. From the sun to the transportation, a whole energy process has gone into bringing this food to you. No one ever again on planet Earth will be eating the exact nutritional profile of the food you are consuming right now.
3. Engage your senses
Look at your food. Smell your food. This will give a deeper sense of connection between your body and your meal before you tuck in.
4. Chew slowly
Take your time and chew your food. Enjoy the tastes, textures and sounds of what you’re eating. Salivary amylase is produced in the mouth to aid the digestion process. The more you chew, the more nutrients you are releasing to feed your body and the easier the load on your digestive system.
5. Stop when you’re full
By slowing down, your body will have more time to send signals to the brain that you are full. It’s so easy to overeat, particularly when the food is just there. After your meal, give your body a couple of minutes to take it all in. Our bodies are wonderful super computers. They get to work on digestion immediately without a single instruction.
Food is fuel. If the fuel we put into our bodies is not well designed or digested, it can lead to discomfort and even chronic disease. Bringing mindful eating to your meals is a simple step to appreciating and respecting your food. By doing this, we naturally make more favourable food choices to nourish ourselves.
This was contributed by Dr Surinder Arora, Integrative Dentist & Health Coach
Photo credits: Pixabay