Mindful Tip #2: Food for thought

The practice of mindful eating is largely based on the idea that there is no right or wrong way to eat, but rather varying degrees of consciousness about what we are eating and why.

Studies show that changing our attitudes and practices around meals and mealtime rituals may be every bit as important as obsessing over what it is we actually put in our mouths. Mindful eating (also known as intuitive eating), aims to reconnect us more deeply with the experience of eating — and enjoying — our food.

But mindful eating will only work for you can make it compatible with your lifestyle. Here are some of my favorite tips to introduce mindfulness to mealtimes in an easy, accessible fashion:

Eat slower

Eating slowly doesn’t have to mean taking it to extremes. Still, it’s a good idea to remind yourself that eating is not a race. Taking the time to savor and enjoy your food is one of the healthiest things you can do. You are more likely to notice when you are full, you’ll chew your food more and hence digest it more easily, and you’ll probably find yourself noticing flavors you might otherwise have missed.

Silence the phone. Shut off the TV.

Our daily lives are full of distractions, and it’s not uncommon for people to eat with the TV blaring or fiddling with their phone. Consider making mealtime an electronics-free zone. I’m not saying you should never eat pizza in front of the TV, but that too should be a conscious choice that marks the exception, not the norm.

Pay attention to flavor

The bitterness of a lemon, the spicyness of chilli, the crunch of fresh lettuce — paying attention to the details of our food can be a great way to start eating mindfully. After all, when you eat on the go or quickly, it can be hard to notice what you are even eating (let alone truly savor all the different sensations of eating it).

Know your food

Mindfulness is really about rekindling a relationship with our food. From planting a veggie garden to baking your own bread, make time to connect with the story behind our food. Even when you have no idea where the food you are eating has come from, try asking yourself some questions about the possibilities: Who grew this? How? Where did it come from? How did it get here? Chances are, you’ll not only gain a deeper appreciation for your food, but you’ll find your shopping habits changing in the process too.

To summarize, mindful eating does not have to be an exercise in super-human concentration, but rather a simple commitment to appreciating, respecting and, above all, enjoying the food you eat every day. And while the focus becomes how you eat, not what you eat, you may find your notions of what you want to eat shifting dramatically for the better too.

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