How to eat mindfully

A balanced meal of chicken, rice and vegetables

Meditation and mindfulness are both about bringing awareness to yourself in the present and can help ease feelings of anxiety and stress. Eating mindfully is also talked about frequently but what does it actually mean in reality? 

It can actually mean different things to different people but overall it’s about getting the most out of your mealtime experience and, in turn, harnessing the wonderful powers of nature for maximum health benefits.

This World Meditation Day Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her three top tips on how to eat mindfully.

Plan your meals with passion

Mealtimes are not just a time for re-fuelling the body with essential nutrients. They are an opportunity to show your body some love and also enjoy what you’re eating.  Think about living to eat rather than eating to live, because food is one of life’s pleasures.

Person's,Hand,Filling,Meal,Plan,Form,On,Clipboard

Unfortunately, life is busy and meal planning often goes down the list of priorities. However, rather than over-complicating things, try to plan at the beginning of the week and just think about the amount of colour each meal is going to provide.  The more colour, the more nutrients you will consume and the more appealing the food on the plate becomes.

Vegan,Chili,With,Beans,,Mushrooms,,And,Vegetables

Two great examples of colourful meals would be mixed bean chilli, including tomatoes and chopped carrots, with basmati rice and some steamed broccoli. Or how about poached salmon, mashed sweet potato, with steamed cauliflower and mange tout.  Both of these will provide wonderful health benefits with a great combination of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.Boost your Breakfast

Chew thoughtfully

This advice is actually embedded in science.  When we chew slowly, putting our knife and fork down between mouthfuls, the sophisticated and complex signalling mechanism that engages from mouth to gut works much more efficiently.  In turn, digestive enzymes and bile production are increased (both essential for successful overall digestion) and this also helps nutrient absorption.

A balanced meal of chicken, rice and vegetables

Additionally, the satiety hormones that signal feelings of fullness are also triggered with slow, mindful eating rather than ‘scoffing’.  In short, it will stop you overeating and taking in additional and maybe unwanted calories.

The,Smiling,Woman,Enjoys,Eating,A,Salmon,Salad.,To,Lose

In terms of mindset, taking time to savour each mouthful also enhances enjoyment of the meal generally.  Furthermore, it’s no secret that wolfing down food causes all kinds of digestive issues.  Be kind to mind and body and your relationship with food will improve significantly.

Meal timing creates greater harmony

With so much information available and so many different dietary plans being followed, it’s no wonder that confusion reigns when it comes to when to eat.  The most important thing to remember is that the body likes routine and, importantly, likes to know when it’s going to be fed. So, chopping and changing and eating at erratic times is not being kind to our body and it may start to store fat to protect itself from potential starvation.

Alarm,Clock,,Plate,And,Cutlery,On,Red,Background,,Flat,Lay.

In order to be mindful about your own personal decision around following a specific diet, the most important point is not to chop and change.  For instance, there is good research to support the effectiveness of intermittent fasting for weight loss, either 16:8 or 5:2.  However, both need careful planning, mainly to ensure as many nutrients are included but also to ensure meal timing is consistent.

Breakfast,,Lunch,And,Dinner.,Healthy,Eating,For,Day

Generally, most people tend to follow the traditional three meals per day plan, which the body likes.  Even if you can’t quite face breakfast first thing, do make sure you’ve eaten it by around 10 am in order for the subsequent meals to be spaced out evenly.  The body also likes to have plenty of time to enter the post-absorptive phase of digestion, which helps balance blood sugar levels and, in turn, aid weight management. Many of us constantly graze, even without thinking.  And this certainly doesn’t constitute mindful eating.

So, by planning your meals and relishing every mouthful of food, this mindful eating will improve your approach to food and increase your enjoyment too.

Stay well.

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All images: Shutterstock

 

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