Lately I have tried to cultivate the practice of mindful eating into my life but I am still learning what it means to be completely mindful when you eat. I just had the most delicious, juicy mango to eat. Eating this mango was a most delightful experience and I savored every bite. I feel so intensely satisfied at the moment.
Let me explain by telling you how I used to eat. I used to be very out of touch with my body and its hunger signals. I would eat for the sake of feeling full and I used to have an insatiable hunger. Through the process of changing my life and my habits I am now at a point where I am able to feed my body with wholesome, nutritious foods. I hardly ever just stuff my face or binge-eat any longer. But what was still lacking was the ability to really be present when having a meal, to treat that 10 or 15 minutes you spend to fuel your body and replenish your energy levels, with the same respect and attention that you do your other daily tasks. All too often we sit down with lunch in front of the computer or we eat with one hand while the other hand is holding the phone. How can we honor our bodies when the most basic thing it asks of us, food, is given to it in the same way we would put coins in a vending machine – hastily giving food in exchange for energy? It is not mindful and we can’t expect health and vitality in exchange for such lack of interest and attention.
If you are really serious about changing your relationship with food there are certain new habits you need to cultivate and practice. As it is with any area of life, you reap what you sow. The more practice, the bigger the rewards. When you decide what your are going to eat for a meal or snack, take a moment to take in what exactly you are feeding your body with – smell, touch (texture) and then taste. Really experience each bite.
Of course there will be days that things are just so hectic that you barely have time to eat, let alone share a romantic moment with your food! And that is OK, we can’t get it right all the time. But it is key that we should stop being lazy and at least do the work when we do have time. My husband Derek, who evidently has hardly ever been overweight, is an excellent example to me at least when we have our supper (I know he is guilty of having lunch in front of his laptop though!) At night when we have our dinner, I have been trying very hard to finish at the same time as him, even though it is not easy. I still love to eat at a relative fast pace because I love the feeling of satisfaction after a meal, and let’s face it, when you are hungry it almost feels instinctive to want to eat fast. But Derek chews really slow, and put his knife and fork down in between bites, it has always been a natural process to him. I try to mirror this now, chew my food really thoroughly before the next bite (which also helps with digestion). I am still moving towards a healthy relationship with food, it may take a long time to get it completely right but mindful eating is something I am committed to as part of loving my body unconditionally.
Remember, how you do ANYthing is how you do EVERYthing. Put differently, how we eat is simply a metaphor for how we live. As you learn to eat what you love and love what you eat, you discover that the lessons also apply to the rest of your life.
For more articles on mindful eating as an alternative to dieting, visit the website of The Center for Mindful Eating http://thecenterformindfuleating.org/