Mindful Eating- What is it & Why Does it Matter?
Mindfulness At Work
What is mindful eating, and why does it matter?
In my holistic health practice, many clients ask me, “What is the best thing I can do to improve the state of my overall health?”
My answer is simple– set your intention to become more mindful.
You see, mindfulness isn't just some hippie dippie, airy fairy word ‘spiritual' people use. Not at all. Mindfulness is by far one of the most powerful tools every human being has the ability to tap into when they want to make a change in their life.
When you become mindful, you become aware. Awareness is the essence that enables us to consciously create– be it the story we tell ourselves, our waistline, or in truth, the reality which we perceive to be true.
Mindfulness is a practice.
Mindfulness is rooted in the each and every moment. It impacts everything from how you choose to spend your time to the words you say and, of course, as it relates to this article, what you choose to you put into your body.
Mindful Eating as a Daily Practice
What was the last thing you ate?
Take a moment to remember everything you can about your last eating last experience.
What was it? Was it a meal or a snack? Were you standing or sitting? Was it sweet or salty? Were you alone, or in company? Did you make it or order it? How hungry were you? How much time did it take to eat it? Were you satisfied afterwards or did you want more? Did you enjoy it? Did you appreciate it?
As you can see, there are many elements we can bring our awareness to in relation to mindful eating.
Mindful eating isn't about counting calories or only eating ‘healthy' foods. It's about getting intentional with what you choose to put into your body and understanding the WHY behind it all. Are you eating that burger because you are truly hungry? Or you just want to experience the pleasure of eating? Maybe you just want to simply savor the the sweet rich sensation only a chocolatey piece of cake can provide. Once you know WHY you are eating, consider whether that cake was truly what your BODY needed, or was just what your MIND wanted?
When we become mindful of what we put into our bodies, the result is often that we realize our choices, may not serve our highest interest.
For example, why reach for the chips, or brownies when you feel hungry, instead of grabbing some carrots or the broccoli?
If you were truly hungry and operating from a place of deep connection to the needs of your body, rather than over-connecting to the desires of your mind, would your choices be different?
This is the root, the essence, of mindful eating.
Food has become our source of pleasure.In today's world, we have forgotten why we need to eat. Food was not invented for our pleasure, it was intended to be the ultimate source of fuel for both the body and mind. Food is essential to our body's ability to survive on this planet, and with all the pleasure food provides, we've lost sight of the very reason we eat it in the first place– to fuel this vessel so that we can continue to have this magical human experience.
What is #FoodthatFUELS
On a cellular level, food fuels us. It is literally is the substance that gives our body the nutrients it needs in order to not just to survive, but to thrive.
If you do not feel like you are operating at 100 percent mentally, physically or even emotionally, a great first step is to take a moment to step back and become aware of the fuel you are putting in your body and begin to understand WHY. Are you giving your body, mind and spirit what it truly needs? Or are your food choices partly responsible for why you may not be operating at your most OPTIMUM level?
By choosing nutrient dense foods, one begins to provide the body with the highest source of fuel so that one's body, mind, and spirit can begin to operate at optimum efficiency and the best ability.
Fuel Like A Ferrari
Think about it, for a moment, let's just say you own a Ferrari. You are about to take it out for a spin and you notice you are running low on gas. When you arrive at the gas station, are you going to choose the unleaded 85 octane or go with the premium octane of 92?
Chances are, you'll go with the premium.
Why? Because you know that putting anything else in that car will decrease its ability to perform. In the long run,using a less efficient fuel has a dramatic influence on the longevity of the car’s engine and its ability to deliver the type of smooth performance it was designed for. If you've bought a ferrari, most likely it was for its ability to perform. Why then, would you give the car anything less than what it needs to thrive and deliver peak performance?
It seems obvious right? Why don't you do the same for your own body?
You ARE the Ferrari.
Your body has the ability to run like a finely tuned machine. If you are giving it low grade fuel, (the human world is equivalent of packaged foods, high in sugar, full of processed oils, etc.), you are inevitably inhibiting your body's own ability to function at its most optimum level.
5 Steps to Mindful Eating
1.) Check In
In this moment, how does your body feel?
2.) Choose Mindfully
What does your body need?
3.) Create Space
Become aware of where you are physically, mentally and emotionally.
4.) Breathe Deeply
Connect to your belly using the Buddha's belly breath.
5.) Slow down
Be here now — really connect and savor every bite.
The more you practice these steps, the more connected you will become to your body, and improve your ability to really listen and understand that it needs.
Mindfulness is a moment-to-moment practice. It takes time, patience and discipline. It's not something you practice once and then it stays with you forever. Mindfulness is a journey towards SELF-awareness.
Mindful eating is an important component to mindfulness — one step to help set you on the path. There are many ways one can practice mindfulness, from yoga to meditation to chi gong and tai chi. There is no right way to practice mindfulness. Everyone no matter they choose to practice it, will benefit.
Eating is something every human must do. Eating has the ability to bring us incredible amounts of pleasure, and it should. Mindful eating is about really listening to your body and the subtle messages sends about the nourishment it is receiving. Is the food you are eating and the way in which you consume truly serve you on a whole-istic basis?
By really listening to your body, you begin to enhance your ability to feel more connected, awake and alive.
What you put into your body directly affects it's performance. The relationship between how you feel mentally and emotionally with what you put into your body might not always be obvious. Think about it this way, food gives our cells nutrients, those nutrients then break down into fuel that our cells can use in order to create the chemical reactions needed to take place in our body on a daily basis. Everything in our bodies from hormones, to muscle contractions to memory depends on it, and proper performance depends on proper fuel.
Think mindful eating doesn't matter? Think again.
Holistic Health Coach & Nutritional Therapist