It’s the year end…that beautiful time of the year when everything is warm, Christmassy, full of joy and good cheer. And simultaneously, we all look forward to the promise of the New Year, with a lot of hope, dreams, desires and, of course, resolutions.
Come New Year, and we are resolved to eat healthy, be disciplined, get back into shape, etc. For 2023, we’d like to share with you the concept of mindfulness and mindful eating. If you can be conscious of this and integrate it into your daily lives, you will do wonders to your eating habits, and completely transform your lives.
What is Mindfulness?
The term “mindfulness” was defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not be overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness as a concept is gaining popularity world over, and many scientific studies have shown that practising mindfulness improves our overall wellbeing, mental and physical health.
Before we explain mindful eating, let us accept that most of us eat mindlessly, with a lack of awareness of the food we are eating. This is because most of the time that we are eating, we are also doing something else – we’re either working, driving, reading, watching television, or fiddling with an electronic device. We are never fully present or paying attention when we eat.
‘Mindful eating’ means paying attention to our food, on purpose, moment by moment, without judgment. Mindful eating is an approach to food that focuses on individuals’ sensual awareness of the food and their experience of the food. It has little to do with calories, carbohydrates, fat, or protein.
The purpose of mindful eating is not to lose weight, although it is highly likely that those who adopt this style of eating will lose weight. The intention is to help individuals savour the moment and the food with all five senses and encourage their full presence for the eating experience.
Mindful Eating Practises
Shop consciously – Practise mindfulness when you shop for your food and ingredients. Consider the health benefits of every item, and do not indulge in impulse buying. Buy fresh produce and locally sourced ingredients rather than processed foods.
Eat when you are hungry – Consciously eat at regular intervals, and don’t starve your body. Don’t wait till you are ravenously hungry because you will tend to eat anything you set sight on, mindlessly.
Take small portions – Believe it or not, the moment you start eating consciously, your portion sizes will automatically decrease. By regularly limiting your portion size, you stop over-eating, yet eat what is sufficient for your body.
Appreciate your food – In many traditions, people say a prayer before they eat. Include a simple act of appreciating and acknowledging everything on your table and everyone it took to bring the meal together.
Eat with all your senses – Be completely attentive to what you eat. Let your eyes see the colour, your nose smell the aroma, your ears hear the different sounds while eating, your mouth savour the food you eat, and your touch identify all the different textures.
Take small bites, chew thoroughly, eat slowly – Everything our mothers and grandmothers kept telling us in our childhood because they had the wisdom and knew the benefits of mindful eating, long before it became a ‘thing’.
Bringing mindfulness to your eating makes you aware of what you eat and how you eat it. It automatically makes you choose healthy and nourishing foods and sustainable diets. The moment you are conscious of what you feed your body; your food intake dramatically changes for the better. Practise mindful eating daily and it will become a beneficial way of life.