There are plenty of things you can do mindfully – meditate, walk and even eat. But what exactly is mindful eating? Is it just another “fluffy” 21st-century trend or does it bring actual benefits? This guide will cover the basics of mindful eating, to give you a better understanding of its benefits and potential place in your life.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is a form of mindfulness, which is a practice that focuses on non-judgemental observation and awareness. Mindful eating employs mindfulness to help you understand your cravings, eating practices, personal preferences and small habits. It’s a way for you to better understand yourself through the small things in life.
Can I really benefit from mindful eating?
Mindfulness itself comes with a host of benefits – from an improved mood and better state of mind, to clearer thinking and better physical health. On top of these benefits, mindful eating may be used to treat specific disorders including depression, anxiety and eating disorders. In addition to this, mindful eating is a great way for non-meditators to practice mindfulness. Many people state that they’d love to practise mindfulness but can’t find the time to use yoga and meditation in their daily lives. This is thus a great mindfulness exercise for you to practice in your daily life. It requires little time and effort, and can be integrated easily into your everyday routine.
How does it work?
In general, eating mindfully just means eating with awareness. What do you think about when you eat? How do you eat? What habits do you have while eating? Think about this throughout the process and spend time considering an action that to you, has always been second nature.
It can be strange giving so much thought to such a mundane activity. Where should you start and what should you take note of? Here are some tips for beginners to practice mindful eating.
- Go slow. Eating slowly means more deliberate action and fewer distractions.
- Take cues from your body. Listen to your body and be aware of what it needs from you. Distinguish between cravings, hunger and gluttony.
- Engage all senses. Eating isn’t just about your taste buds. Engage your 5 senses by noticing smells, textures, flavours and colours.
- Feel. How does your meal make you feel? Appreciate your food and see how it affects your mood.
- Remove distractions. Eating by itself should be seen as an experience. Remove all distractions like phones, television shows and videos.
- Get some help. Beginners can try using mindfulness tools to help stay focused while eating mindfully. A great tool to start with is a Timeqube, which is an unobtrusive mindfulness timer. It’s a timer that changes color with the passing of time. You won’t be interrupted with the stress of a ticking clock or the shock of a blaring alarm. This way, you can practice bite-sized sessions to train yourself. Give it a go and try it out today. In fact, all you need is 5 minutes and a nice, hearty meal.