Do you ever feel bombarded with food and nutrition advice? “What to eat”. “What not to eat”. “How much to eat”. The lists of do’s and don’ts can be boggling. But what if we’re missing the point?
What Is Mindful Eating?
What if I told you, “You could become healthier by eating whatever you want; all you have to do is eat it mindfully?” Ayurveda suggests that how we eat is as important as what we eat. Mindful eating is the missing key. What is mindful eating? Mindful eating is exactly as it sounds – being conscious and aware of the activity at hand. Recognizing flavors, textures, colors, aromas, feelings of hunger, and signals of satiety. Basically, mindful eating means that we slow down and enjoy our meal.
Practice: Next time you sit down for a meal, pause and take a deep breath. What do you smell? What do you see? What do you feel?
How Mindful Eating Impacts Our Digestion?
Digestion involves more than you might assume. According to Ayurveda, when we eat, we are not only digesting food – we are digesting the entire experience. This includes the lighting in the room, the conversations we’re having, or the narratives coming in from the television or radio. The thoughts we’re having as we chew and the vibrations in the space around us – all impact our metabolic process.
Practice: Next time you sit down for a meal, turn off the computer or television and set your phone aside. Adjust the lighting in the room so that it is pleasant, and be cognizant of the quality and tone of your conversations. Observe how altering the atmosphere improves your experience and ability to digest efficiently. I’ve had many clients who complain of
How To Practice Mindful Eating?
Mindfulness can’t be rushed. It’s tricky to be conscious of an experience if we’re hightailing our way through it. The mind-body requests that we slow down a bit in order to compute signals of hunger and satiety. It takes nearly 20 minutes for the network of intelligence in our brain to sync up with the network of intelligence in our gut. If we shovel food down in a ravenous fit, we can easily overeat. Habitually overeating stretches the stomach, causes indigestion, impairs our motility, and alters our moods and energy. Taking the time to slow down and chew our food thoroughly would prevent unnecessary discomfort. In Europe, people spend on average 127 minutes a day eating. In the US, we spend on average under 72 minutes a day eating.
Practice: If you have difficulty slowing down, try eating with smaller cutlery, use chopsticks, or even eat with your hands. Smaller cutlery will promote smaller bites. The skill required to use chopsticks will require more of your attention, and the tactile response of using your hands will involve more of your senses. By being more attentive to the moment, you can be more deliberate in your efforts to slow down.
When To Eat?
Become routine. You could have a meal at noon one day and the identical meal at 3 pm the next day, and your body will think they are two completely different meals. Why? Because our metabolic fire mimics the sun. The sun is strongest mid-day and so is our metabolism. Eating a large meal at noon will digest earlier than eating a large meal
Practice: If you don’t already, make lunch your biggest meal of the day for an entire week. Notice if you avoid that afternoon 2–4 pm crash. See if you have more energy, better sleep, and perhaps, even weight-loss.
Being a healthy eater doesn’t have to be daunting or restrictive. Developing healthy eating patterns request that we become more mindful. Enjoy the process of implementing these tools and sharpening your awareness. I think you’ll find meal times to be more delicious and satisfying. The experience of eating should nourish us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Mindfulness is