Posted by Kristin McCaig
You are so busy…
By the time you eat, you are starving. You have no defenses against what is quickest, easiest and makes your mouth water the most (fast food).
You inhale the food so that you can get lunch out of the way (oh, lunch, you are such an interruption to my progress).
If I were to ask you to log what you ate for the last three days do you think you would be able to remember?
And if I were to ask you how your digestion was, your energy and your mood after your last three meals, did you even notice?
I get it. I run two businesses and have young kids and it all takes up a lot of my time and energy. It often seems like grabbing a coffee and skipping lunch would be more time efficient than closing my computer, getting lunch and taking the time to eat it… albeit mindfully!
But making time to eat mindfully actually gives me more energy and therefore I make better use of my time after I eat.
Rushing through mealtime sets you up to eat more than you need to, to ignore the quality (or lack there of) of the food you are eating and to screw up your digestion.
If you are eating just to “fill the tank” without thinking about what you are filling the tank with, you are missing the opportunity to understand what meals make for the best start to your morning and which ones really knock the wind out of your afternoon productivity.
And when we eat super-fast, our satiety signals (the “ok, I’m full” signal) doesn’t have time to chime in and before we know it, we have eaten double what we really needed.
One day, we see ourselves in a picture and we don't even recognize the person staring back. Where did those extra pounds come from?
So what is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is about creating an environment that allows you to pay attention to what you are eating while you eat. How does the food smell? How does it feel in your mouth? How does it taste?
When you are eating mindfully you have the time to think about things like, “What does it taste like when I put some potatoes on that bite of steak? How about when I take a little bite of the steak and dip it into the salad dressing? Yum, that piece of onion looks perfectly cooked with all that butter around it….”
You have the awareness to check in every now and then and ask, “How am I feeling now? Am I hungry for a bit more or am I satisfied with this supper?”
Mindful eating is about taking all forms of distraction away from the table.
This may be obvious but it is really difficult to eat mindfully while you are scanning your Facebook updates or checking your email. That means no computers, phones, TV or newspapers…for fifteen minutes. I know you can do this.
What about the kids? Yes, kids can be a distraction from really focusing on what you are eating, but I think that kids bring joy to the dinner table (on a good day) and for that reason I will argue that they should not be banned from the table while you learn to eat mindfully.
So here are the top two objections that I am betting you have.
1. But I am so busy. I just do not have time to sit down and eat quietly.
- We are talking ten to fifteen minutes here.
- It means better productivity for you after your meal.
- Your food will taste better.
- And we are most likely talking weight loss here too.
...Now do you have ten to fifteen minutes?
2. I do not have a ‘quiet place’ to eat.
- Find a park bench, picnic blanket, table with a chair or worst-case scenario you can sit in your car in the parking lot of a nice park.
Now here are three simple steps that you can take to begin to eat mindfully and improve your digestion, your body composition, your productivity and your overall sense of satisfaction from the food that you eat:
- Find a quiet place to eat. A kitchen table, a park bench or a picnic blanket.
- Turn off or put away all forms of distraction (including your phone, computer or newspaper). Kids are an exception.
- Concentrate on every bite you take. Chew thoroughly. Notice what it looks like, tastes and feels like as you chew.