Recently, I shared with you all a bit of an introduction to mindful walking (which, if you missed it, you can find here) and mentioned furthermore that in honor of and inspired by World Mental Health Day I’d be posting more in a brief series on the topic of maintaining good mental health throughout the rest of October.
We sit precariously on the edge of that particularly festive – and feast-ive! – time of year between Halloween and New Year’s Eve when, what with all the holidays in relatively quick succession and the potential for many a food-stuffed gorge-fest with family, friends, and co-workers, it is all too easy to slip into bad habits such as eating until we’re well past full, eating whenever we feel a bit down, or eating whilst trying to multitask. It’s an ideal time to start thinking about how we can each best develop a more mindful way of eating, a way that will leave us both nutritionally but also spiritually satisfied.
Here now are a few friendly suggestions to help you – and me too! – as you try to bring more awareness to your everyday eating.
So, what’s all this ‘mindfulness’ business anyway? Well, when I think of being more mindful, I’m focusing on becoming more aware of what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and how it’s making me feel. As far as eating is concerned, I more specifically want to be aware of what foods and quantities I’m ingesting, as well as of when I’m eating and why.
In my mind, mindful eating isn’t about achieving a certain diet, rather it’s about achieving a heightened awareness of my eating habits and eating experience. It all boils down to a more total well-being, not just physical but mental too.
One thing we can do to start eating more mindfully is to give our meals the attention they deserve, turning off the TV and leaving your phone in another room. You don’t have to do this all the time of course, but perhaps you could start by choosing 2 or 3 days a week in which you’ll do this.
Another good habit to strive for is just to slow down your consumption. It takes something like 25 minutes for your gut to notify your brain that it’s full. When eating quickly, it’s easy to eat well past the point of fullness and comfort without even realizing it for a little while.
Try to eat more things which are nutritionally beneficial than things which are simply for comfort. I find this challenging at times, in particular after a long, challenging day at work. Sometimes it’s hard not to just turn into a couch potato, kicking back with a glass of Coca Cola and something chocolate-y, telling myself I’ve earned it. But ultimately I do find that I feel better, in more ways than one, if I instead opt for healthier snacks and drinks when I’m shattered and just wanting something quick, easy, and comforting.
OK – there are of course many other ways of seasoning your mealtimes with a bit more mindfulness, but hopefully these friendly suggestions are enough to help you begin to think about what you eat and the way in which you eat and how your habits might be tweaked a bit so that they ultimately become healthier for you. I too am striving to be more aware of my habits and of how they affect me, and I’m always hoping to make little simple changes for the better.
Are there any other things that you like to do in order to eat more mindfully? Please do feel free to share your ideas in the comments below!