Mindful Eating Tips – Preparing and eating food with awareness
One of my favourite workshops that I facilitate is the ‘Mindful Eating’ Workshop.
Let’s face it, a lot in our life revolves around food and drink. Besides the fact that most of us eat 3 times a day, many life celebrations include food and drink. Most of us are exposed to so much food and drink, leading to some of us over indulging and over eating.
So, I thought it would be a good idea to encourage you to practice mindful eating. And you might ask, ‘How do I eat mindfully especially during dinner parties?’ In this article, I share some tips to help you try the practice of mindful eating at any time.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is about putting all your attention on eating or drinking. And, we can do so by using all or most of our senses to savour and enjoy our food and drink.
This means we slow down to eat rather than just gulp food without really savouring or tasting it.
1. Food preparation
If you are the one who is preparing the food, enjoy the process of cooking, as much as possible. Put in your full attention to the process and try not to multi-task (eg. Answering phone / social media / doing other house work). Become totally involved with the preparation of washing the vegetables, chopping, and inhaling the food aromas especially if there are spices involved. (I love taking the time to absorb the fragrance of spices). Become one with the process of cooking!
2. Do not put unrealistic food preparation expectations on yourself
Do not forget to ask for help if you need to. Do not put unrealistic food preparation expectations on yourself. This is mostly applicable when you are preparing for a dinner party or a celebration.
Remember this is a time for families and/or friends to get together and enjoy each other, rather than stress out ourselves with the preparation of unlimited amount of foods and having a perfect setting!
3. Choose good quality ingredients
Maybe, as you are cooking you can also pay attention to the quality of the ingredients you are using. For example using more fair trade, sustainable farming products.
How nourishing is the food you are preparing? I am aware, of course, we follow traditions and culture which may not be the healthiest. But, if we can create some balance by using better quality maybe even organic ingredients, wouldn’t that be a good idea?
4. Size of portions
If you are the one who is serving the dishes, do the portions need to be so big?
When you are sitting down, with the food in front of you, have a good look at your plate. Observe the different food, colour, texture, size of portion, have a sense of the general smell.
5. The actual practice of mindful eating - Sensory Awareness
Tuck in slowly (maybe you can even listen attentively to the sounds that the fork and knife make on the plate). Before you actually put the food in your mouth, you can even touch the food, smell it and absorb its aroma. Then, slowly put it on your lips, then on your tongue and let it stay there for a minute or so. Then, swirl it around and become aware of the different taste sensations in different parts of your mouth.
Just have fun exploring the different sensations and be curious like a child who discovered a new food!
Bring in all of your senses!
6. How are you feeling?
Take time to notice any sensations in your body as you eat (eg. Stomach fullness, feeling thirsty, any cravings, heaviness, maybe even any memories and/or emotions that come up).
The way the food makes you feel is a good guidance. First and foremost, its a guidance whether you should stop or continue. Secondly, it could be an indication of your emotional state that needs to be looked into.
Be thankful for the food that Earth has provided us all and the nourishment that it does give us. Be thankful to all the persons including yourself who have been involved in the process of bringing the food on the table.
8. Make your own choices / decisions
And, remember to give yourself the permission to make your own choices. As an example, if you don’t feel like it or you are full you don’t have to eat the food even if you feel pressured to take it.
Many of us, as they over eat and over indulge feel guilty and it does not have to be this way. We can indulge by using all or most of our senses whilst we eat and make food a truly pleasurable sensory experience . This means we do not have to overeat or overindulge, and feel guilty. Food is there to give us pleasure, nourish us and celebrate special moments together.
“Sitting at the table and eating with other people s a chance to offer an authentic smile of friendship and understanding. Its very easy, but not any people do it. To me the most important part of the practice is to look at each person and smile. When family or community members sit together and cannot smile at each, the situation is very dangerous one. Upon finishing your meal, take a few moments to notice that you have finished, that your bowl is now empty, and your hunger is satisfied. This is another opportunity to smile and be grateful that you have had the nourishing food to eat, supporting you on the path of love and understanding”. - Thich Nhat Hanh
Watch me with a mindful eating practice
Some time ago, I have shared some tips on video how we can eat mindfully through the example of a cookie. This is a mindful eating exercise where I display how we can bring more awareness to the food we are eating by using our senses. Mindful eating can help us increase our self awareness.
The actual exercise starts around the 3rd minute.
I hope you will find these mindful eating tips helpful in bringing more awareness into your life, bringing more balance and happiness. I would love to hear from you if you are making mindful eating part of your way of life. Of course, it does not have to be all the time 🙂 It makes me happy.
If you found this article interesting or helpful, I suggest you subscribe to my mailing list so we can keep connected. I organise mindful eating workshops from time to time. If there is one happening soon you will find it under Events section. You can also learn more about mindfulness here