Lately, though, such experiments of the mouth and mind have begun to seep into a secular arena, from the Harvard School of Public Health to the California campus of Google. In the eyes of some experts, what seems like the simplest of acts — eating slowly and genuinely relishing each bite — could be the remedy for a fast-paced nation in which an endless parade of new diets never seems to slow a stampede toward obesity.
Mindful eating is not a diet, or about giving up anything at all. It’s about experiencing food more intensely — especially the pleasure of it. You can eat a cheeseburger mindfully, if you wish. You might enjoy it a lot more. Or you might decide, halfway through, that your body has had enough. Or that it really needs some salad.
What are the keys to eating more mindfully? Here are some pointers, a few practical tips for mindful eating:
- Eating mindfully is all about paying attention, and it is hard to pay attention when you are distracted, right? So put away the phone and shutting off the television so you can focus on your meal. Some might suggest sitting down while you are eating to better ensure that you are focusing on your meal rather than multitasking.
- Consider your food choice. Is it healthy? Does it offer vitamins, nutrients and protein, or is it derived of empty calories? This is especially important to pay attention to when you are eating out and did not cook your own meal.
- Be thankful. You do not have to say a prayer to be thankful for your food. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a great meal on the table each day.
- Do you know what real hunger is or when you might actually just be thirsty? If not, for a few days try drinking a glass of water each time you think you are hungry to see if you notice any differences in how you feel afterwards. You may just be filling your body with foods when you are not even hungry.
- By the same token, do you know when you feel full? Are there stages of fullness or do you just suddenly realize that you cannot eat another bite. Try paying attention to your body during mealtime to see if you can recognize anything you may not have known before.
- Pay attention to how you feel while you are preparing your meal, while you are eating it, as well as once you have finished. Pay attention to your emotions and mood changes. Does it make you feel anxious? Does it make you feel satisfied? Does it make you feel powerful? Since we know that many of us eat as an emotional response, it can be helpful to focus on how we feel while we are eating too.
- Eat slowly. Many of us rush through our meals and never get a chance to truly enjoy them with our senses. Consider the flavors as well as the colors, smells, and textures of your meal.
- Another way to practice mindful eating is to put your utensil down after every bite and pick it back up again before the next one. You will eat slower, giving your body a bit of a chance to digest, and therefore you will feel full faster.
- Try to focus your attention on what you are eating. Think about how it tastes as you eat it. Take time moment to savor it.
Mindful eating is just that; a mindset. So relax, enjoy and be in the moment with your food!
This article was written by The New York Times on Feb 7th, 2012 and by Babble's Jessica Cohen in 2012.