According to a 2011 USDA poll, the average American spends two and a half hours eating, but we're also doing other things more than half the time. We aren't conscious of what we're eating because we're working, driving, reading, watching TV, or fiddling with a gadget. This mindless eating leads to over-eating and contributes to an obesity epidemic and other health consequences.
What is mindful eating?
Mindfulness is about being present while calmly observing and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and body sensations. Mindful eating means paying great attention to your food while you buy, prepare, serve, and enjoy it.
- You can consume less junk food if you pay attention to what you eat.
- It may help you to control stress eating or compulsive eating and thus protect you from obesity.
- Ayurveda says that mindful eating helps you digest and absorb food in a better manner. It helps you to absorb the prana or the life force present in the food.
- Mindful eating may help to Defend your body against chronic inflammation. It is crucial as chronic low-grade inflammation has been linked to heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and other disorders.
Steps to Mindful Eating
If you want to eat healthier for the rest of your life, try this old strategy designed by the great modern saint Thich Nhat Hanh
- Make a grocery list. Stick to your shopping list and think about the health benefits of each item. Fill your cart largely with veggies to avoid the processed foods in the center aisles and the chips and candies at the checkout.
- Bring a keen appetite but not a crazed appetite. If you skip meals, you may be so anxious to get something in your stomach that you miss out on enjoying your meal.
- Start small. Keeping your plate to nine inches or smaller may help.
- Enjoy your meals. Before you eat, pause to reflect on the efforts that went into getting your meal to you. Be thankful for the opportunity to enjoy wonderful food!
- Use all your senses while eating. Pay attention to the color, texture, aroma, and even sound that meals make as you cook, serve, and enjoy them. While chewing, try to identify every ingredient, including seasonings.
- Eat in moderation, taking small bites. It's easier to taste when your mouth isn't full.
- Chew slowly and thoroughly to enjoy the flavors of the meal.
- Avoid speaking, watching TV, or doing anything else while eating. Be present with your food.