Mindful Eating

I was recently speaking with someone in one of my cooking classes and the topic of mindful eating came up. I wrote this post a year ago, but somehow it got lost in the internet world. But, I’ve found it and here it is!

Last month I had the pleasure of being interviewed by my good friend and colleague Paul Sanchez at Be Yoga Fit about mindful eating. I had a great time speaking with him about the benefits of mindful eating and ways to start integrating mindful eating into your daily life. You can check out the recording here.

In case you don’t have time to listen to the whole podcast, here are the cliff notes 🙂

Benefits of Mindful Eating

1. Digestion starts with your senses!
Think about your favorite meal… really visualize it and remember what it smells like. Do you notice that you start to salivate? Saliva contains enzymes that help break your food down. If you’re eating in a hurry, you’re likely not salivating (especially if you’re eating at a desk while doing work). Eating mindfully can snap you out of your work/life craze momentarily and allow you to really enjoy your food and digest it well.

2. Peace of Mind
Mindful eating is like any mindfulness practice, it’s an opportunity to come into the present moment. You can even look at mindful eating as a type of meditation. Being present is a great way to take a break from the incessant voices and to-do lists in our head. Food is just another avenue to get there.

3. Weight Maintenance
When we eat mindfully, it’s so much easier to notice when we are actually full. When we eat while watching TV (as one example) we often just keep eating because it’s something to do. We’re paying attention to the TV, not to what’s going on it our bodies. When we eat slowly and mindfully, we know how much our body needs. This is a great practice if you’re trying to lose weight or maintain your weight.

Ways to Practice Mindful Eating

1. Connect with your breath
Taking a moment to breathe anytime of day helps recenter and ground us. Breathing between bites of food or before sitting down to eat is a great way to be present with your food and get your body ready to begin the digestive process.

2. Chew
I like to ask my clients to count how many times they chew a bite before swallowing if they are not consciously trying to chew more. The answer is usually 2-3 times. The more we chew our food, the easier time our bodies have breaking it down and the easier it is to absorb nutrients from the food. Some people recommend chewing upward of 50 times per bite! Give it a try and see how you feel, especially if you have any type of digestive issues.

3. Gratitude
Food takes work. It doesn’t just magically show up in grocery stores like money on trees (though fruit does grow on trees!). There are the people who make our food, deliver food to the grocery stores, the people who work on the farms that grow our food, the farmers who take care of the land and soil that gives rise to our food, the water and resources that nourish the plants that produce our food and on and on and on. If you eat animal products, an animal had to be born and raised, nourished and care for over the years and then sacrificed to feed you. Creating a meal takes more time and resources that what we usually think about. Taking a moment to recognize the chain of attention and effort that goes into creating a meal is a great way to become present to the beauty of what we are about to consume.

What are the benefits you’ve noticed of eating mindfully? What are your favorite ways to be present while you eat?

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