The Mindful Diet Days 4-6
Week 1: Build An Awareness Foundation
Days 4-6: Practice eating mindfully
As anyone who’s ever plowed through an entire pint of ice cream or bag of chips knows well, stress and other emotions can play a big role in causing us to overeat. Mindfulness is an antidote, according to research published in Clinical Psychology Review. It showed that the practice acts directly on brain regions that regulate our emotions, enabling us to think more clearly.
But know that, at first, practicing mindfulness when you eat can feel pretty forced—until it becomes second nature, says Annie B. Kay, lead nutritionist at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health and author of Every Bite Is Divine. “Mindful eating is really about reconnecting with the sensual enjoyment of food, and there are many different ways to do this,” says Kay. Finding the practice that resonates with you will help you stick to it effortlessly. Here’s an easy guide to discovering your fit:
If your go-to meditation or de-stress tactic is … Savasana
Try: A senses scan. As you dig in to your next meal, tap into all five senses. What does your food smell or look like? What is the taste and feel on your tongue, or the texture in your hands? What does the food sound like when you cut or chew it? Take a moment to really consider your answers. “Asking and answering these questions after each bite will inherently help you slow down and savor your food,” says Kay.
If your go-to meditation or de-stress tactic is … counting your breaths
Try: Counting your chews. “Ayurvedic practitioners recommend 30 chews per mouthful, to really break down your food before it hits the digestive system, but even if you get into the double digits, that’s great,” says Kay. “The goal is to tune in to the food you’re eating, not just shovel it in without really tasting or enjoying it.”
If your go-to meditation or de-stress tactic is … repeating a mantra
Try: Setting an intention at the meal start. You can say grace, express your gratitude for your food and the people who helped grow and prepare it, or simply remind yourself to continually tap into all of your senses after each bite.
This practice came at the perfect time; today thru Sunday I’ll be in the bay area for Outsidelands with some friends, and I needed another dose of encouragement to be more conscious about what I eat.
The article quotes Annie B. Kay saying, “Mindful eating is really about reconnecting with the sensual enjoyment of food,” so we must be conscious of each bite, chewing slowly and fully. I have employed each of the article’s suggested mindful eating tactics, but my favorite is using the senses scan. It allows you to enjoy each flavor present and recognize how different foods ignite your different senses:
What does the food look like?
How does the food smell?
What does the food taste?
How does the food feel on your tongue?
How does the food feel in your teeth?
How does the food feel on your throat?
How does the food make YOU feel mentally?
How does the food make YOU feel emotionally?
How does the food make YOU feel physically?
What kind of energy does the food provide you with?
Try considering everything you consume as fuel for your body; your car wouldn’t make it to work without gas in the tank, and neither will you! Every time we eat we are either fighting or feeding common health diseases. Certain foods, like cruciferous vegetables, stimulate immunity, reduce inflammation, balance blood sugar, support detox, and even fight cancer. Whereas processed foods or beverages are so distorted that our bodies do not recognize them as fuel. Instead of burning the calories from processed foods, our bodies store them in fat cells; so instead of getting fuel or energy, we get fatter. It is important to recognize how different foods make you feel while you’re eating them, an hour after you’ve eaten them, and even the morning after you’ve eaten them.
There is, however, more to eating mindfully than just eating sensibly. Included in eating mindfully is making meal preparation & clean up a meditation as well. Monk’s view at chores as an extension of meditation, and you can too! Focus on the task at hand, refrain from letting your mind wander; instead visualize washing each dish as washing away any stress or anxiety you may have. Mundane tasks that we feel forced to do everyday serve a new purpose and we can emerge actually feeling positive about our time spent cooking and/or cleaning.