It has become well know the past few years that learning to be more mindful can impact all aspects of your life, from how you sleep, social interactions and work stress. But have you ever considered how mastering mindfulness could impact your eating habits?
In our fast paced, high stress and over stimulated modern society, it is easy to fall into the trap of eating mindlessly. Have you ever sat there watching the TV at night and dipping your hands into a bag of crisps over and over only to suddenly realise they are all gone, because you have eaten them without even consciously thinking about it; this is a prime example of mindless eating. We have all done it from time to time, but for many it becomes a daily habit.
Aside from casual mindless eating whilst our minds are focused on other stimulation, not making the time to practice mindful eating can also lead to unhealthy eating habit such as emotional comfort eating, boredom eating and food phobias. Mindful eating can help with an overall healthier relationship with food as well as enhancing your everyday experience with food to bring more joy and pleasure into your life.
My first personal experience with mindful eating was during a mindfulness based group therapy session. At the time I was highly anxious, living mainly on processed vegetarian junk food and had a never ending list of food phobias. Food wasn’t really a joy as much as it was a means a feeding addictions to processed food chemicals; I lived off the high and lows that these foods gave me. In the therapy sessions each week we were given mindfulness task; which we would later try to implement in our day to day lives that following week. When I first found out that we were going to be doing an eating task, my heart sank, I remember clearly immediately looking up at the clock, just minuets in to the session, to check when I could leave. My palms became sweaty, I was a full blown anxious wreck. At the time I never would have considered myself to have had issues with food, but looking back I realise I just hid them from myself really well. I ate a lot, but I was skinny, I thought I obviously must have had everything in the perfect balance. (Skinny is not an indication of how healthy you are by the way, its far more complicated that the fat/sick – thin/healthy perspective we have been fed, but more on that another time)
We were given satsumas; I never ate type of orange, I don’t even remember when I decided I don’t eat oranges, but somehow I could remember I don’t like them. I had all these preconceptions about them. They always have that horrible white stuff, its like chalk, and the juice will be bitter, and pealing the is awkward and messy, and ill gag, ill be sick and… and … and …. and.
The anxiety bubbling up in my head was so real.
I did as they said and a breathed as they guided me through it, one step as a time releasing my anticipation of what was about to come.
As we followed the mindful eating meditation, I surprised myself, it actually wasn’t awful. Since that day I have used similar practices over and over with different foods and the foods I now eat have grown so vastly, past me would be in shock. I get a real sense of joy out of eating food, and not because I’m on a high from sugar and chemicals; so best of all I get all this joy out of eating with out the energy and emotional crash afterwards. meaning my mood has also become more stable.
I like myself as a person a lot more now.
A GUIDED MINDFUL EATING MEDITATION
- Chose a food that you don’t usually eat, or one you regularly eat mindlessly.
- Once you have your chosen food, find a calm quiet space where you will not be interrupted .
- Take a few moments to relax, take slow deep breaths allowing your body to relax and feel at ease.
- Clear your mind of judgments of the food you are about to eat. If you find it difficult to do so, just observe the judgments as them come and allow them to go again.
- Now I would like you to leave the food in front of you, resist any urge to touch it, and just look at it. Observe with out judgment its colour, is it all one colour or does it change? What about shadows? Or other visual proporties, what about its size? and shape? Each time you make an observation try to release any judgements.
- Judgments may still come but let them was over without acknowledgement and go back to observation.
- Now pick up the food, and close you eyes, feel it in your hands, run you your fingers over it and observe it’s texture, is it smooth? its it rough? does it texture change in different areas?
- Avoid any statements about whether it is good or bad.
- Smell the food, is it a sweet smell, is it what you expected?
- Now take a bite size piece of the food and place it on your tongue, resist the urge to bite it. Just let it sit there for a while. Is it salty, or sweet? bitter or sour? is it melting or retaining its shape?
- Take one singular bite. what happened to the food? did it crunch or pop? did it release more flavour? what is flavour like? continue to try to avoid good or bad judgements about the food, this is something you can observe at the very end.
- Continue to eat the piece of food in your mouth taking more bites slowly, continuing your observations of texture and flavour, and maybe even smell as some food release more aroma when being eaten; you may even observe how this is effecting your taste buds.
- As you finally swallow the food, think about how it feels going down your throat, and the sensations in your body as you absorb the energy of the food.
- Before you choose to eat any more of not, take a few moment to clear your head a breath, and observe how your body now feels, how do you feel about eating more, do you still feel anxious? do you still feel the need to eat the whole bag?
The results of this type of practice can go many ways:
Tt may confirm that you don’t like the food, but leave you more open to trying others.
It may confirm that you do really like the food but get more joy eating it slowly to take in the flavour
It may prove you wrong that you actually quite like a food you thought you hated and expand the foods you can eat.
It may prove you wrong and show you a food you where mindlessly eating is actually not all that great.
No matter what the result, keep trying it with lots of different foods, and see your world of food alter.
This blog follows my personal research and learning into health and wellbeing, as well as my own personal comments on the subject matters. All blog posts contain my own personal opinions and does not reflect the opinions of any organisations I may be affiliated with. Any information I provide on my blogs is accurate and true to the best of my knowledge but there may be omissions, errors or mistakes that I am unaware of. All information presented on this blog is for informational purposes only and shouldn’t been seen as advice. I reserve the right to change how I manage or run my blog and may change the focus or content on my blog at any time
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