Phew! The title is enough of a mouthful before we even begin. Being mindful is about learning, or re-learning to be present, aware and living life in the here and now. When we introduce this way into our eating, positive changes are available for us all.
How often would you think you are mindfully aware when you eat?
If you are anything like me, eating is often perfunctory, which is a little sad when we consider the journey our food undertakes before it reaches our mouths!
So who has time to consider the food?
Listen, not only can we have the time, if we want grow appreciative and quieter minds, we can reduce the mind-chatter and improve our personal and professional performances, whilst creating greater awareness!
Making the small effort to re-train ourselves earns the right to improving those moment-to-moment experiences of life.
Turn off the media if you would like to be re-introduced to your eating experience, you’ll want fewest distractions, right?
How about a simple exercise to get you started?
Having chosen your item of food, get yourself settled – without distractions and put up the ‘do not disturb’ sign. If you have a raisin, or a peanut… any small piece of food is ideal; crisp, carrot… anything! Place it in your hand, in the palm:
- What does it look like? Really examine it closely, observe and describe in your mind each contour, colour, and the shape.
- What does it feel like? Is it warm, cold, soft, hard, malleable, coarse or smooth?
- Does it smell of anything? Does it have any aroma?
- Now place it in your mouth and on your tongue. No chewing. What does it really taste like?
- What does it now feel like?
Now imagine, if you can, where this item of food came from. The country and region, how it all started, perhaps as a seed. Was sun and water required? Did it require nurturing? How was it harvested, what was the process from where it was grown – to getting to the shops?
Now chew! Slowly appreciate the taste. Has it altered? Was anything more released? What does it sound like when you chewed it?
You may be thinking this all appears quite onerous and long-winded, however, you will also have noticed a new experience, at least, one you haven’t had for a very long while.
You can practice this exercise with your entire meal!
Whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner – or anytime you ‘snack’ because this has multiple benefits for you. Here’s how…
The food tastes so much more intense when you eat slower. See if you can chew each item more slowly than usual, 25-30 times. To help with this put the fork down once you have placed the food in your mouth; try to get into the habit of finishing the food in your mouth BEFORE putting the next piece on the fork. You can even eat junk food mindfully, if you wish! You might enjoy it a lot more. Or you might decide, halfway through, that your body has had enough. Or that it really needs some salad or greens!
When you eat mindfully, you find you get satisfied with the quantity, as well as the quality, much earlier. You may find yourself eating less, unable to finish meals, you may find yourself having smaller portions, all of which will reduce the amount you eat, helping with overall intake.
Eating this way improves your mind!
Yes it does. It helps you introduce quiet contemplative thought processes, and these are calming, whilst aiding digestion and wellbeing! Do remember, this does take some practice. You are considering something we do ‘mindlessly’ every day of our lives. The good news is you get to choose if, when and how you play with this method of appreciative eating and thinking. I suggest enquiringly and non-judgementally.
If you like this idea, there are many more in mindfulness that can re-engage your current ways in which you act in automaticity. Bringing real life to you, without cost and with minimal effort or time commitment. For more on this subject, do drop me a line. Happy eating!
Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of "Conscious Living by Design"™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.
Bob provides bespoke counselling services to individuals and couples in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).