When we talk about mindfulness people can get stressed thinking they have to allocate large amounts of time and energy to it. The trick is to simplify it and bring it naturally into your day. For me being more mindful is learning to pay attention more to what is happening in the moment. We can do this while driving, cleaning, and exercising or indeed during conversations with friends but one of the most important times to really try and become more mindful is at meal times.
We are always being told about what we should eat but what about HOW we should eat? How many of us eat on the run or at our desks or in front of the TV. This mindless form of eating is actually wreaking havoc on our health. We have lost our connection to food and food is our life source so it’s important that we understand the value of not just eating right but also eating mindfully.
A lot of people view food as the problem in life and are constantly on diets and restricting the very thing that nourishes us physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually. When we switch this up and see food as a solution it can help us to reconnect to ourselves our emotions and our habits around eating. Health is all about balance and the winter months are the perfect time to reconnect with food in a deeply nourishing way. Christmas time is also about food and connecting with those we love. It shouldn’t be about feeling bad or even guilty afterwards.
How we eat is how we live and how we live is how we eat. In other words our relationship to food and eating represents our relationship to our lives. Think about how you eat, keep a food diary for a week and start to notice how you are treating yourself through food. If we eat artificial, processed and fast food than we become that. Do you eat for emotional reasons, which is basically eating instead of feeling, this is something most of us do on a day-to-day basis so don’t worry you are not alone. The trick is to tune in, slow down and pay attention.
The benefits of mindful eating are plentiful but most importantly your digestion is improved. When you are stressed and busy you are in what’s called fight or flight mode or “stressed mode”. This is when the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated leading to all sorts of digestive problems starting with your digestive system being shut down and fewer digestive enzymes being released. There is also less hydrochloric acid in your stomach released which is not good as you need HCL to break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins into the vitamins and minerals that are needed for optimal health. If you are stressed, your hormones and mood will also be deranged and your immunity compromised.
So here’s some of my TOP TIPS:
- EAT SLOWER AND BREATHE– Most of us eat too fast so even slowing down a bit will help enormously. Take three deep breaths before each meal too as this will help encourage your body in a para-sympathetic mode AKA the one you want! When you slow down you are more likely to notice when you are full too.
- CHEW, CHEW, CHEW– Most of us barely chew these day but chewing allows your food to be mixed with digestive enzymes in the mouth which helps to begin the digestive process. It will also help you to eat less too.
- NO DISTRACTIONS – Turn off the TV, phone and step away from the computer. All of these distractions encourage mindless eating so instead of tuning into your devices tune into to the taste, smell and colour of your food, which helps to stimulate senses and connect your body and mind with your food.