Eating With Mindfulness …. A guest post from Ali over at Homey Improvements
A healthy life doesn’t happen just because it’s something you want. It happens because you work for it. As humans, we are creatures of habit; we like to do things the same way. We get up the same way, go to work the same way and eat lunch the same way. That makes it easy for our daily habits to let us go on auto-pilot. Unfortunately, that tends to be where we fall into trouble.
Eating without thinking about what you’re doing can lead to several problems, one being the tendency to overeat. While weight gain and unhealthy habits are personal problems that can be associated with unconscious eating, these habits, which lead to poor food choices, also have a larger impact on our world as a whole. Contributing to poor working conditions, bad land management and other unethical business practices is easy to do if you’re not paying attention to your food. A little practice can help you learn to pay more attention and make better choices.
Slow Down and Cook
All too often, we rely on fast food, frozen dinners and packaged snacks to get us through our day. However, that severs an important connection between what you’re putting into your body and the work that went into it. Making that connection isn’t always possible, but when it is, it does do more for both your food and your body. Cooking with whole ingredients – tomatoes, onions, greens and spices – results in a better understanding of your food.
Additionally, the benefits on your family of learning how to cook are exponential. Homemade meals are cheaper than eating out, even if you’re ordering off the dollar menu. Cooking at home is a wonderful way to teach children about the vitamins and nutrients they need to be healthy, and it’s a cool way to learn about new foods you haven’t tried before.
Turn It Off and Tune In
With smartphones, it’s now incredibly easy to watch the latest episode of “Game of Thrones” or answer emails while you’re eating. The truth is, this should be a time when you can take a break from the constant overstimulation of media. Plus, it’s easy to overeat when you’re not paying attention to your food. Have you ever sat down with a bag of chips, turned on the TV and at the end of the show been surprised to discover that the bag is way emptier than you expected? That’s the result of mindless eating.
Mindful eating, however, has been shown to reduce later snacking and improve your memory of your last meal. This won’t let you lose 5 pounds for your weekend date, but it can help to keep you from steadily increasing your weight throughout your life, which is a good way to reduce your risk for serious chronic diseases.
Savor the Flavors
When you’re eating, the flavors of the meal are supposed to meld together into a note of deliciousness. However, much like a symphony, that single note is comprised of many other, individual notes. By taking the time to sort through and find each note, you can start to deepen your understanding of the food you’re eating. In addition, you’ll notice that this slows down how you eat, while increasing your perceived satisfaction.
This technique not only helps to slow eating, which gives you time to feel full, but it also helps to keep you tuned into the meal itself. This keeps you in tune with your body, checking in to see if you’re full or if you’re still hungry. It lets you allow your body to do its job and self-regulate. By avoiding overeating and undereating, you can work on developing a good relationship with your plate.
Eating isn’t supposed to be just a way to pass time or get energy. It should be a real relationship with food, and like any relationship, it should be a healthy one. While planting a vegetable garden and shopping at farmer’s markets is great, it’s unlikely that most people will be able to eat all of their meals that way.
Learning about food supplier’s efforts at sustainability and fair trade programs is growing more important in our ever-shrinking world. With climate change drastically effecting farming practices worldwide, keeping track of these shifts can help you make informed decisions about what products to buy. By listening to the planet and making an effort to buy things that are in season, you place less stress on those who are trying to make a difference, and you encourage change.
No matter why you’re interested in mindful eating, the benefits of it are far-reaching. This practice not only affects you, but it also affects your family, your shopping choices and therefore, the world. Slow down, savor the flavors and learn to love your food again.
Bio: Ali is a kombucha-sipping writer who focuses on healthy and sustainable living via her family blog Homey Improvements. Find her on Twitter at @DIYfolks.