By Nicole McCray
Being mindful means being fully present in your life, be it when you’re cleaning your house, swimming, looking at the sky, or eating. With so many distractions in the way, our busy mind being the biggest one, this is easier said than done.
We’re constantly being dragged away from the present moment by either reliving the past or worrying about the future, even though our present (and presence) is the only thing that matters. Mindfulness can come a long way, especially if you incorporate it in every aspect of your life.
Eating is a perfect example – how often do we watch something while eating? How often are we distracted by work so we eat on the go? We all do it, we distract ourselves even when we don’t want to do so, it just sort of happens. And this is where mindful eating comes into play.
What is mindful eating and why is it important?
Being mindful is a way of life and practicing it requires dedication and patience. The truth is that by not giving attention to certain things in our lives, we don’t give attention to ourselves, to our innermost workings, and if this happens for long enough, our physical, emotional, and mental health suffer.
The good news is that mindful eating can help us in discovering what mindfulness means for us. So what does it mean?
It means focusing on our food completely and getting rid of all distractions. It means slowing down and taking it all in – how the food looks, smells, and tastes, how you’re feeling as you prepare to eat, and what thoughts you have about eating.
Each aspect is equally important and it allows us to better understand our eating habits, but also to enjoy food more. Because food, just like life, is meant to be thoroughly enjoyed.
The food we eat and the way we eat it is the mirror of who we are and it can determine our quality of life. This isn’t meant to feel like pressure, but a gift, because we hold in our hands the ability to shape our lives, and mindful eating is only one of the ways we do it.
By giving our undivided attention to the act of eating, with time, we’ll be able to take a deeper look into ourselves, which can unlock insights that can help us remold our lives however we see fit.
Mental Health Benefits of Mindful Eating
We already touched upon the main benefit of mindful eating, which is becoming more aware of your inner processes, but there are many more advantages that can encourage you to give it a try.
One of the biggest and most notable benefits of mindful eating is better digestion. When we put our full attention to how we and what we eat, the chances of overeating and consuming poor-quality food diminish significantly.
When we eat slowly and deliberately, we chew our food more, making it easier for our stomach and bowels to digest it.
What also happens with mindful eating is that we start eating less because we are more acutely aware of our satiety cues. This can contribute to better portion control and ingesting fewer calories, which in turn can help with inducing autophagy, weight loss, and a healthier gut.
Becoming More Mindful about Emotional Eating
Mindful eating is inextricably connected to your mental health, and it can immensely help people struggling with emotional eating. Adding mindfulness to every meal means understanding your hunger and why you’re reaching for food in the first place.
Sometimes we’re triggered without even knowing it and our first instinct is to reach for our favorite snack, without understanding why we’re doing it. Food is the ultimate damper of emotions, but when you ask yourself gently and mindfully what you actually crave, the answers can help you identify your triggers and know yourself a bit better.
A few of the questions you can ask yourself are:
- Do I feel hungry right now?
- What else am I feeling that adds to my sense of hunger?
- What do I need right now more than food?
- What am I avoiding?
- Am I enjoying this?
Eating mindfully translates into living mindfully, which can help you lessen emotional eating habits and feel good about yourself for doing so.
You Enjoy Your Food Much More
If you scarf down food or don’t pay enough attention to it because you’re distracted by your phone, you definitely won’t be able to fully enjoy it. And your food deserves to be enjoyed, especially if it’s something you made yourself and you particularly like.
The best way to eat mindfully is to savor every morsel and in it, experience and name every taste and texture. Not only will this make the experience of eating infinitely more enjoyable, but you’ll be surprised by the discoveries you make.
You’ll understand better why you love the foods that you do and might also find out that some things you loved for a long time you’re no longer a fan of or the opposite, foods you disliked now you find tasty. Embrace those changes because you’re letting your body show you exactly what it needs, which is the goal.
Mindful eating is meant to be a gentle, judgment-free practice, something you do to improve your quality of life and through it, love yourself a little more. Eating mindfully invokes gratitude for the gorgeous food we have access to and for our choice to nourish our bodies in the way we need it most. In the end, that’s what eating should be all about.
Nicole McCray is a content creator who spends her time writing about everything, including beauty, health and wellness, pet care, music, movies, and TV. She writes for various blogs and loves using her insight to help any audience.