Imagine a hectic morning. You’ve snoozed your alarm a few too many times and now you’re rushing out the door worrying about being late for work. Breakfast is the last thing on your mind, so you wolf down a few buns you bought at a 24-hour convenience store. The same day, you come home tired and just want to hang out in front of the TV, so you unwind with some chips and fizzy drinks.
It’s not unusual for us to put our eating habits on the back burner. After all, there are so many other things to juggle in our daily life. However, this approach to eating is unsustainable as it will eventually affect our health.
This is where mindful eating comes into play. We’ll examine how mindfulness can improve your eating habits, leading to better health outcomes.
Mindfulness and Mindful Eating
Mindfulness is not a new concept, despite gaining widespread attention in recent years. It has been practised in several religions over the centuries and even acknowledged by modern psychologists as beneficial.
In short, mindfulness involves the purposeful yet gentle observation of your current surroundings and circumstances, with no elements of judgement. In effect, you are rooting yourself in your present moment, calmly accepting any physical sensations, thoughts and emotions you may have.
Mindfulness is most commonly employed in meditation and as a calming method when one is anxious. Modern researchers have explored mindfulness as a treatment for addiction, chronic stress and brain ageing, among others.
That brings us to mindful eating. Mindfulness can extend to many aspects of our lives, and the way we consume food is one of them.
With mindfulness, we become aware of what we eat, and savour each sensation that we experience during a meal. It involves taking the time to mentally record the taste, texture and other details of each morsel you chew, and doing so in a peaceful manner.
Mindful Eating in Your Daily Diet
Mindful eating has been shown to help in weight loss by reducing binge eating and promoting a more enjoyable eating experience. The following practices will assist you in preparing meals through the lens of mindfulness.
1. Asking Key Questions
When planning meals or buying groceries, ask yourself some key questions. Why am I eating this? How much do I actually need? How would I prepare this?
All these questions will help you prepare meals in a more thoughtful manner, avoiding wastage and doing your part for the environment. It also allows you to carefully consider the effects of each ingredient on your body, as well as how it can be better prepared for optimal nutrition.
ReCulture takes this very same approach when choosing which ingredients to use within our programmes, ensuring they are not only delightful to taste, but nourishing to the body too.
Mindful eating is careful eating. Therefore, avoid large serving sizes. Prepare enough food to fill a modest 20cm plate and only fill it once. Portion management can be done gradually, as a sudden reduction of food quantity may trigger cravings.
Your meals should ideally allow you to take small bites, and chew them in a slow and deliberate manner, savouring the taste and texture of the food. Be sure not to fill your mouth to the brim as you’ll face difficulty enjoying your food this way.
Portion control is central to nurturing better eating habits, an aspect we strive to develop throughout our wellness programmes.
Plan for a Leisurely Meal
Meal planning isn’t just about what to eat or how to prepare your food. It should also cover the ‘when’ and ‘where’ of your meals. Mindful eating requires you to be in a quiet place, and not be distracted when dining. This means you shouldn’t be handling other tasks or activities during your meal, including driving, walking, using the computer or doing chores.
A mindful meal requires you to eat with awareness, reflecting on what you’re eating, where it’s from and being grateful for every bite. It would be difficult to do this if your mind is somewhere else, or distracted by external factors.
Plan for a Meal That Can Be Enjoyed
In mindful eating, your awareness is brought to the fore by the appearance, texture, aroma and flavours in your meal. As such, it helps to include a wide range of different elements your senses can enjoy, from sight, smell, taste and even touch (if you’re eating with your fingers).
The availability of different aspects to enjoy will enhance your dining experience, and allow you to fully immerse yourself in the act of mindfulness. As you chew, you can try mentally naming the brilliant colours you observe and the seasonings you taste.
Eating a meal in such a deliberate manner may seem awkward or unusual to some, but it has been shown to help both mentally and physically. Some of the benefits of mindful eating include weight loss, as it encourages you to consider smaller portions and curb binge eating.
At ReCulture, we offer wellness programmes to help you eat better and improve your health. Our programmes include healthy, fresh meals delivered to your home, which you can enjoy in a mindful manner. Contact us and learn more about how ReCulture can support your mindful eating journey, with nutritionally packed meals, supplements and proper guidance.