Are you really eating mindfully? I share an experience from last week when I realized how far I’d gotten from mindful eating and why I’m challenging myself this week (and encourage you to join me) to avoid all distractions while eating and engage fully in the experience of the meal. #eatmindfully
I wrapped up my 8-wk mindfulness/meditation course last week and during our final class, we talked about mindful eating. Actually, we practiced mindful eating – the instructor brought in food for us to share and to practice with.
Being a registered dietitian, I pride myself on practicing and preaching mindfulness and mindful eating and in fact I’ve taught classes around mindful eating. So, I went into the class thinking I already know everything. Big mistake.
After smelling, seeing, feeling, and peeling the little clementine before me, I closed my eyes to taste it. And by tuning into all my sense and being fully present with no distractions, all the sudden, it was the juiciest piece of citrus I’ve ever had. It was delicious. And also a big wake up call for me.
It was unlikely that this was actually the juiciest piece of citrus I’d ever had, but the perception was real because by being fully present with my food, I was able to appreciate the taste and texture that much more.
And that’s when I had to swallow my pride and realize that I haven’t been eating mindfully. I wonder if any of you can relate – thinking that as long as we’re not eating in front of the TV, we’re okay. That’s been my rationale. Meanwhile, a meal doesn’t go by where I don’t have something next to me – my phone, my computer, a book, etc. I’m a sucker for efficiency so I’ve been pulled into this pattern of scanning emails on my phone and reading the Daily Skimm during breakfast (because as long as I’m at the kitchen table, I’m eating mindfully, right?) and watching Ted Talks or reading during lunch. Dinnertime I don’t have to worry about as much because I’m usually engaging in conversation with Steve.
Actually, I had an experience of mindless eating right before my mindfulness/meditation class last week. I was having a snack before class while writing a blog post on my computer. I had three crostini on the plate. And after eating one, I looked down at the plate, and thought why is there only one crostini left? Did I only heat up two? Nope, I was sure I put three on the plate. And then I realized how distracted I really was while eating. It was timely that this experience happened right before the mindful eating exercise. It made my realized how far I’ve gotten away from it.
Since when did it become so challenging to eat and only eat during meals? When did we start feeling this pressure to always be DOING rather than just BEING. As someone who loves food, I couldn’t believe that I haven’t been fully enjoying or tasting my meals. I want every clementine to taste like the juiciest clementine I’ve ever had.
So, how do we get back to eating mindfully? First and foremost, we MUST put down our phones. It’s so easy to browse our phones, return texts, check FB or Insta while eating. But this is still a distraction. Something that takes us away from the food and the experience in front of us. We MUST stop multitasking while eating. We need to let go of our obsession for time efficiencies and realize that the work will start/resume once we’re done eating (and that does not translate to rush through your meals!)
This week, I’m challenging myself to avoid ALL distractions during breakfast and lunch and be fully present during the meal. Will you take this challenge with me? I’ll be posting about my experiences on social (after meals, of course) using the hashtag, #eatmindfully. And I hope you’ll join me in spreading some awareness about the challenge. If you’re going to take the challenge, here are a few ways below to practice mindful eating from Savor by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung:
- Honor the food. Start with a prayer or these five contemplations:
- This food is the gift of the whole universe: the earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and much hard, loving work.
- May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive it.
- May we recognize and transform our unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed, and learn to eat with moderation.
- May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that we reduce the suffering of living beings, preserve our planet, and reverse the process of global warming.
- We accept this food so that we may nurture our sisterhood and brotherhood, strengthen our community, and nourish our ideal of serving all living beings,
- Engage all six senses.
- Serve in modest portions.
- Savor small bites, and chew thoroughly (20-40 times until food is liquefied in your mouth)..
- Eat slowly and avoid overeating (try putting your utensils down in between bites, eating with your less dominant hand, or eating with chopsticks).
- Don’t skip meals (this can make it harder to make mindful food choices).
Not only does mindful eating help you savor your food and enjoy the experience, it helps you to eat less (helping you to lose or maintain your weight) and can help improve digestion and anxiety.
What do you think? Are you ready for the #eatmindfully challenge? I hope you’ll join me in creating a space for your meals that’s free of distractions so that you can engage all your senses and truly taste your food and savor the experience of eating.
To join the challenge, leave a comment below for some accountability and share your experiences with me on social using the #eatmindfully hashtag.
Do you struggle with eating mindfully? Do you eat with your phone or computer nearby?