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Mindful Eating a Key to Good Health

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What is Mindful Eating?   Mindful eating is an in the moment awareness of the food and drink that you put into your body, this involves observing how the food you eat makes you feel and the signals it sends to your body, it can affect the way that you feel physically emotionally and mentally. It can also boost your energy making you feel well or it can drain your resources making you feel sluggish, may be moody or slightly down. For example you may find that when you eat a meal that is heavily loaded with carbohydrates you could feel bloated and lethargic for some hours afterwards, or if you eat a lighter  meal of say fish and salad you might feel slightly more mobile and alive.

Mindful eating can help significantly reduce over eating habits, that can contribute towards weight gain, faulty eating habits, eating disorders, food cravings, stress and anxiety issues around food. This said on its own mindful eating is not a diet, although it does teach us to be aware and fully present in the moment, whilst we cook or eat allowing us to truly savour the taste, texture and look of our food without judgement. When we are more aware and present the mind is calmer, when the mind is calmer we are less prone to making bad choices. When slowing down our eating process we can discover the connection between our mind and how body feels during eating, a series of hormonal signals connect our gut and central nervous system during the digestion process. The brain requires 20 minutes to understand the process of us feeling full in our stomachs, so slowing things down has great benefits.

Mindful eating isn't about being perfect and always eating the right things and never allowing yourself to have the odd treat or to, it's about focusing all of your senses and being present in the moment whilst you shop, cook, serve and eat your food.

To practice mindful eating it's important, to eat with all of your attention, without being on automatic pilot this means, stopping what you are doing, put down your phone maybe switching the television off, putting your book to one side, or momentarily put off, mentally planning the things that you need do later. Pay attention to the textures shapes colours and smells of your food whilst shopping preparing and eating your food.  Discover what reactions you have to the food on your plate, the colours, how did the smells make you feel?, chew your food thoroughly and notice how the textures and flavours make you feel physically and/or emotionally, these experiences may change moment to moment as you progress through your meal or snack. Try to make a greater connection to where your food has come from, how it's been produced and the journey it's taken to get to your plate, the people that have been connected and involved within that process.

Research has found that mindful eating can promote better digestion, keep you full with less food and help you to make wiser choices in what you eat and when you eat, how different foods affect your energy and mood, help to free unhealthy habits and make better nutritional choices.

“Mindful eating is very pleasant. We sit beautifully. We are aware of the people surrounding us. We are aware of the food on a plates. This is a deep practice.” 

Thich Nhat Hanh

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