3 Steps to Mindful Eating Habits
Becoming more mindful is a learning process and it takes time to build sensitivity and skill, but learning which foods work best with your body can improve every aspect of your life. Just imagine if you always put in the right fuel to power the unique machine of creation that you are- how could this shift your experiences?
~Make sure to listen to the guided meditation on EATING MINDFULLY~
(no.16 in the Mindfulness section of our Free Meditations)
What am I hungry for? First, bring your attention to how you generally choose what foods to eat - is there a craving for something in particular? Are you suddenly attracted to the sight or smell of the food? Or maybe you are making a certain choice because of time restraints or convenience? We can make better decisions when we tune our senses towards the prospect of a meal Before we do the choosing. This is one reason that having specific times during the day when you have your meals (and snacks) can curb bad eating habits- the body and mind begin to prepare themselves when they know it will soon be time to eat. This helps to tune your energy in to being most receptive to the foods that contain the nutrients that will satisfy your body’s needs at any given time. If it isn’t possible to have set meal times each day, setting aside just 5 or 10 minutes before you make your food choice to sit quietly will give you incredible access to your body’s intuition. Calmly focus on the breathe and the sensations inside the body without expectation. Even if nothing stands out to you during this mini-meditation, when you finally choose your meal you will be making a decision from a clearer, more receptive place. The more you practice this the better you will become at picking up the subtle cues quickly and easily. The body already knows and will inform you of what you need to eat to feel your best- your calmest, your most energized, your most focused.
Now it’s time to direct your awareness to all of the little details of enjoying the food that we so often ignore. So, how does the food look? Is it vibrant, colorful, is it beautifully or artfully shaped? Does it please you in that moment? Food can be an art form (designed by both nature and man). Learn to shift your attention to the beauty of your meal. Beauty communicates a sense of peacefulness to the brain that shifts your energy to the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS activation redirects your physiological resources to the organs of digestion, so you automatically digest food more easily and get more value from your meal. This relaxed state also helps you to slow down while eating. Taking smaller bites and chewing them more thoroughly will greatly improve your ability to assimilate nutrients, and will also make you aware of when your body is actually ‘full’- and this practice in itself can help prevent overeating. You might also take time between bites to appreciate the food itself- Gratitude makes any experience more special, and nourishing the temple your live in (your own body) should feel loving. It’s a good practice to think back to where your food came from- who planted it, grew it, brought it to you, prepared it- think of the people, the sun, the soil, and all that was involved to make your meal possible.
Now for the after-effects. This step is so often forgotten about, but it’s important to be able to learn and remember how your body reacts to different foods (and food combinations) so that healthier, more conscious choices can be made in the future. Start by checking in a couple of times after every meal (this may be 30 minutes afterward or a day later, or anywhere in between). With practice you’ll become more sensitive to your body’s reactions to different types of fuel. Simply notice how you are feeling physically and mentally. Does anything stand out? Are you feeling lethargic, anxious, heavy? Are you suddenly moody or did your mood shift drastically? Do you feel like you need a nap? Or maybe you are feeling light and energized, calmer, more positive? Or the all-important question- Do you feel satisfied from the meal? Did the food satiate you, or do you feel a need to eat more or something different?
Try your best to witness all of these thoughts without judgment. It can be helpful to keep a food journal for a few weeks- jotting down your thoughts and any associations, and then reviewing it later to see what conclusions arise. Remember that self-transformation can result from the slightest shifts in behavior, and changes begin with your conscious intention In This Moment. ~*~