Cultivate a healthy relationship with food, digest better, and discover greater pleasure in life with these mindful eating tips.
Mindful eating is a simple concept. It means being present and aware while you eat: paying attention to your food and savoring each bite.
But don’t let its simplicity fool you: the benefits of mindful eating are immense. Eating mindfully has been shown to relieve depression, aid digestion, and even treat eating disorders.
Some guided meditation practices can take mindful eating to an extreme–like taking 20 minutes to eat a single apple slice. And such exercises can certainly be helpful! But ultimately, what we want to do is cultivate a sustainable, everyday mindful eating practice. You can do that by remembering these mindful eating principles whenever you sit down to a meal (or even grab a quick snack).
Mindful Eating Tip #1: Rejoice in Food
With so much cultural baggage around weight and nutrition, we can begin to feel like eating is shameful, or at least something we shouldn’t spend too much time thinking about. At the same time, we live in such an abundant culture, it can be easy to forget how precious food really is, and just how lucky we are to have so many food choices available to us. On both counts, a paradigm shift is in order: let’s not just think about food: let’s rejoice in it! Focus on food with gratitude and joyful expectation. Enjoy planning your grocery list and meals. Prepare your food with glee and let it be a satisfying expression of your creativity.
Mindful Eating Tip #2: Take 3 Deep Breaths
Before diving into a meal or snack, take a moment to take three deep, conscious breaths. This will bring you into the present moment while relaxing your gut and flooding it with digestion-stimulating oxygen. And you don’t have to worry about drawing attention: it’s easy to do this discreetly if you’re in public or dining with others.
Mindful Eating Tip #3: Clean and Organize Your Kitchen
Keeping your kitchen clean and organized is mindful eating feng shui: it’s a symbol and actual representation of your reverent and respectful relationship with food.
Mindful Eating Tip #4: Eat with Others
Of course, for many of us, plenty of our everyday meals will still be eaten alone. But it’s interesting to note that eating meals with others offers an impressive array of mental, emotional, and physical health benefits. These benefits include stress-reduction, brain health, and increased self-esteem.
Mindful Eating Tip #5: Ritualize Your Meal
When we eat with a group, an element of ritual is often built in by preparing the place settings and calling everyone to the table. But even during solitary, everyday meals, you can remind yourself to eat mindfully by lighting a candle before you eat or taking other steps to make your meal or snack into a ritual, such as putting on some relaxing music or using an attractive placemat.
Mindful Eating Tip #6: Contemplate Your Food
This is perhaps the most enjoyable mindful eating tip, and it’s actually sort of mind blowing. It’s simply this: think about your food while you eat it. Think about the earth, sunlight, and rain that contributed to its miraculous growth. Think about the amazing health and nutrition benefits it provides. Think about all the subtleties of its taste profile. Marvel at its very existence.
Mindful Eating Tip #7: Unplug While You Eat
Perhaps it should go without saying, but just in case: if you want to eat mindfully, turn your phone on airplane mode or put it in the other room. Also turn off the television and forget about the Kindle, the iPad, and the morning paper.
Did you try these mindful eating tips? What did you think?