Mindful Eating

6th April 2016

*original post from 2012*

I went to a talk last night on fatigue in brain injury patients. One thing that was mentioned was mindful eating {this is due to diet playing a part in recovery}.

The occupational therapist who was leading the talk posed the question:

how often do you actually taste or think about what you’re eating?”.

Honestly? Probably not that often.

It’s a well known fact that factors such as boredom or depression can see us heading straight for the biscuit tin but hand on heart how many times do you just reach for food and not really take in the taste, smell or texture of it?

A recent piece in the New York Times suggested mindful eating as a way of fighting bingeing. It explored how we all eat so fast these days because our lives are fast and as a part of that we end up eating more than we should. Mindful eating therefore becomes the psychological barrier for overeating because the slower you eat the more time you have to recognise that you’ve had enough.

 

Mindfulness is a bit of a buzz word at the moment. It comes from Buddhist teachings and is the art of fully being aware of what’s happening both inside and outside yourself. It’s all about taking in what’s going on in your body, heart and mind as well as your environment.

And mindful eating?

This means paying particular attention to the experience of eating – colours, smells, texture, flavour etc

The New York Times describes it as “meditate with food, expanding consciousness by paying close attention to the sensation and purpose of each morsel.”

By eating mindfully we teach our bodies to feel when we are satisfied and when we’re full. Which, in turn stops the over consumption of food and results in a better culinary experience.

This week I’ve decided that I will experiment with eating mindfully

I’ve been thinking about people who post pictures on facebook and twitter, what if they’re on to something. By pausing for a moment and taking that shot what they’re really doing is taking in what’s on their plate, honouring their food and mindfully stopping to look at what they’re about to consume.

One aspect of mindful eating that I feel a real connection to is that it creates a sort of anti diet. Who needs your dukan, atkins, weight watchers etc when you’re fully in control and handling your portion control in accordance to what your body is telling you it needs – whilst still enjoying your food?

Dieting is big business and whilst those businesses have been growing we’ve been losing the control and handing it straight over.

So how to mindfully eat?

I’ve been doing a lot of research and here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.

– Quit multitasking when it comes to dinner. Concentrate on dinner only not checking your emails, watching tv, texting etc
– Eat only when you’re sat down at the table.
– Stop talking and enjoy the silence.
– Chew – aim for 25-30 chews per mouthful.
– Put down cutlery in between bites.
– Try to identify every ingredient in your food.

And the benefits?

According to zen habits the benefits of mindful eating are as follows:
– Reduced overeating
– Increased enjoyment of food
– Improved digestion
– Being satisfied with less

Could a discipline pioneered by Buddhist monks and nuns help teach us how to get healthy, relieve stress and shed many of the neuroses that we’ve come to associate with food? – JEFF GORDINIER

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  • I know I don’t eat mindfully – I rush through my meals, I eat when I’m bored or when I’m emotional. I definitely need to eat more consciously.

  • Harriet @ Toby&Roo

    i never chew!! I know that might sound really silly but I end up in such a rush to eat all the time that I just barrel through food and then I find I’ve snacked all day without realising! H x

    • No totally get you! there are some things I have really concentrate on eating because i know i just swallow them otherwise

  • A very interesting post, I try to take my time and really enjoy my food but my work colleagues take the mick about it!

  • Ickle Pickle

    Mindfulness is amazing – doing anything mindfully is just so beneficial on so many levels. Great post 🙂 Kaz x

  • What an interesting post, I have to admit, if I am really enjoying something I do tend to take my time over it, if it is just normal food I don’t really think about it, which is a shame really x

  • This is so interesting, I have to admit I tend to eat far too quickly so I don’t even have time to savour and enjoy what I am eating. x

  • Melanie Edjourian

    I must admit i think about what i am tasting all the time, possibly some form of ocd.

  • This is such a great idea, I that Paul McKenna “I can make you thin” focussed on being mindful about what you eat x

  • This is awesome advice. I almost never think about what I’m eating. I really have to stop multitasking during meals.

  • This is great advice, I think it could really help people to enjoy food again, I sometimes feel it’s just eating for the sake of it because it’s meal times and I don’t really enjoy it

  • Hungry_Healthy_Happy

    I have been doing this for a couple of years now and it has made such a huge difference in the amount that I eat.

  • I’m eating at my desk at work whilst reading this so I guess I need to try this out! Not sure I could manage that many chews though.. By the time I get to 10 there’s not much left to chew :/

  • Thanks for this tips. Great advice you got here xo

  • Jessica Dearnley

    This is really interesting. I admit I tend to let myself go on a weekend and half of the time I eat when I’m not hungry and don’t think about it, but during the week I’m quite well behaved.

  • I need to do this! I always eat in front of the TV or while multi-tasking, not good!

  • I agree in principle with this idea (although the word ‘mindfulness’ makes my teeth itch). I like to think I do smell & taste properly. Definitely something to consider – I like the thought of pausing between bites. Not sure how it will fit in with 3 children and a hugely busy life though!

  • Louise

    This post is so eye-openiong and interesting and i think it’s definitely something I’d like to try!

  • You’ve got some really great advice here, going to try and put some of it to use! X

  • I did read a little about mindful eating a few years ago, but never really gave it a try. Maybe it’s time to revisit it now

  • Hannah Malanga

    I was just about to go grab some chocolate till I read this… now I might not lol great tips, thanks.