Mindful Eating Mindless Eating

How’s your food? Honestly! How does your food taste? Do you know? Do you care? And, why is this important to you? Here is a quick story to put this into context.

I was at a health club up on the second floor stretching. Where I was they have a whole big bank of windows where you can look down onto the café/ dining area. I was looking down at all the people eating and “relaxing”. There were the post workout people chilling, the mom’s picking up their kids, some just waiting for others and I noticed that everyone was on their phone as they were eating.

I noticed people weren’t even looking at their food, they were just shoveling it in, which got me thinking, cause I’m a curious guy, are they even hungry or are they eating out of boredom and how does this affect their health and the quality of their life? Do these people even know or care what they’re eating and why is important to you anyway?

If you haven’t notice obesity is everywhere. And if you’re reading this I hope you want improved health, more energy, to feel better and may be even want to lose a bit of weight right. The expert researchers and scientist have told us for years that mindless eating leads to over eating, excess consumption of low quality foods and obesity. It’s not the only factor in overeating, but it is one of many pieces of the puzzle. Further, you miss out on the joy of mindful eating where you really engage in the food, it’s flavours, smells and taste. Eating is truly one of life’s greatest pleasures.

 

Are you “shovelling” your life away?

 

But more important than that, it’s the disengagement from the core process and substance that gives us life, health, and from one of life’s truly simple joyful pleasures. And think about this, how you do anything is how you do everything. Thus as a metaphor and reflection for other areas of your life, are you living mindfully or mindlessly? Are you really engaged with your life? Is one day just another day. Are they all blending into another? Are you just shoveling it down without “chewing and digesting” it? Are you really enjoying the flavours and tastes that are all around you? Are you living mindfully or mindlessly?

Eating is a natural, healthy, and pleasurable activity when it’s done to satisfy hunger. A healthy lifestyle is not just about what you eat. How you eat matters just as much. Choosing to eat “mindfully,” in other words, giving food and eating your full attention, will allow you to have optimal satisfaction and enjoyment without eating to excess.

Mindful eating makes it possible for you to experience the difference between physical satisfaction and fullness. Mindful eating also allows you to feel more satisfied with smaller quantities of food. Learning to savor your food simply makes eating more pleasurable. Knowing what satisfies you and getting the most pleasure from your eating experiences are key factors for a lifetime of health.

Again, lets look at the big picture and how you live life, your stress levels and how fulfilled and satisfied you are with your life. Can you become more mindful and aware of your surroundings, how you are feeling and even your emotional state? How are you interacting with others? Are you engaged and present or are absent, disengaged and you more worried about that text that just came in?

How would your day and life be enhanced if you were more mindful of how you went about your daily tasks, if you actually enjoyed the things you did more, if they had more “taste” and “flavour”? You have the choice to easily improve the quality of your life everyday with every meal

As the old saying goes, the first step to solving a problem is acknowledge of a problem. If you want more joy, happiness, energy, fulfillment and satisfaction in your life start paying attention to your life. Become more mindful. This applies to your food and eating patterns but also to your relationships, and how you live life. Get more engaged. What do I mean by this?

I love photograph and the one thing it has done is teach me how to “see”. I didn’t get my first camera until I was about 30 years old. It was the fall time here in southern Ontario. The maple trees and the birch trees were amazing. I loved the colour. I loved going out early in the day on near sunset to catch the “golden light”. I started asking myself why I had never notice how amazing the fall colours were before? I just wasn’t clued in. I wasn’t mindful of my surroundings. I feel I’ve been so luck learning how to see. Other wise, I would have missed so much beauty that life has to offer.

Similar thing with food. My older sister and brother took me to a Curry House in Toronto around the same time. No way was I going to try any of those “weird” foods! With persistent encouragement I did and my gosh how this changed my eating patterns.

 

I was “Mindless” . How about you?

 

Why did I never try or experiment with these flavours and tastes before? I didn’t know they existed. (Lame excuse from one who grew up in a super multicultural city like Toronto). I was “mindless”. These experiences changed my life for the better. Now, I’m much more aware and mindful.

Easy Steps for Mindful Living

Here are a few tips you can use to be more mindful to add more “juice” and joy to your life.

  • Slowdown and take in your surroundings. The smells, sounds, light, the people etc. Just stop for a moment and take it all in. Digest this slowly and tell yourself how lucky you are to be alive here and now! Life is good!
  • Focus on the positive. Start surrounding yourself with pictures of things you find wonderful and beautiful.
  • Surround yourself with more people who are positive, upbeat and mindful. You may have to shed some old relationships and acquaintances to make way for the more positive ones.
  • Share the goodness! When you see, smell or experience something wonderful… share it. Tell others
  • Become mindful. What will all this do? It will help you to start seeing the good, the positive in life, others and yourself. This my friend, will boost your mood, reduce your stress and make your life much more mindful! Nice!

I have also added some simple ways to improve your mindfulness around eating. From www.amihunrgy.com

Simple Steps for Mindful Eating

Try the following strategies for Mindful Eating to help you identify your body’s signals and truly enjoy your food:

  • Start by recognizing whether you’re hungry before you begin eating. If you aren’t hungry, you won’t be as interested so it will be harder to stay focused. Besides, if a craving doesn’t come from hunger, eating will never satisfy it.
  • Don’t wait until you’re famished. One of the keys to conscious eating is to keep your body adequately fed to avoid becoming overly hungry which increases the chance that you’ll overeat.
  • Next, decide how full you want to be when you’re finished eating. When you eat with the intention of feeling better when you’re done eating, you’re less likely to keep eating until the food is gone.
  • Choose food that will satisfy both your body and your mind. Our society is so obsessed with eating right that we sometimes eat things we don’t even like. However, satisfaction comes not just from fullness but from enjoying the taste of your food–without guilt. Feeling guilty about eating certain foods actually causes more overeating, not less.
  • Set the table in a pleasant manner. Creating a pleasant ambience adds to the enjoyment of eating and to your level of satisfaction. Besides, you deserve it.
  • Eat without distractions. If you eat while you’re distracted by watching television, driving, or talking on the telephone, you won’t be giving your food or your body’s signals your full attention. As a result, you may feel full but not satisfied.
  • Eat when you’re sitting down. Choose one or two particular areas at home and at work that are only used for eating and eat only there. For example, do not eat while standing over the sink, peering into the refrigerator or sitting in bed.
  • Appreciate the occasion. Appreciate the atmosphere, the company, or simply the fact that you’re giving yourself the opportunity to sit down and enjoy your meal.
  • Take a few breaths and center yourself before you begin eating. This will help you slow down and give eating your full attention.
  • Appreciate the aroma and the appearance of your food. Notice the colors, textures, and smells of the food and imagine what it will taste like.
  • Decide which food looks the most appetizing and start eating that food first. If you save the best until last, you may want to eat it even if you are full.
  • Savor the aromas and tastes of your food as you eat it. Put your fork down between bites and be conscious of all the different sensations you are experiencing.
  • If you notice that you’re not enjoying what you chose, choose something else if possible. Eating food you don’t enjoy will leave you feeling dissatisfied.
  • Pause in the middle of eating for at least two full minutes. Estimate how much more food it will take to fill you to comfortable satiety.
  • Push your plate forward or get up from the table as soon as you feel satisfied. The desire to keep eating will pass quickly. Keep in mind that you’ll eat again when you’re hungry.
  • Notice how you feel when you’re finished eating. If you overate, don’t punish yourself. Instead, be aware of the physical and/or emotional discomfort that often accompanies being overly full and create a plan to decrease the likelihood that you’ll overeat next time.

Once you’ve experienced the increased pleasure from mindful eating, you may be motivated to become more mindful during other activities too. Living “in the moment” and becoming more aware can increase your enjoyment and effectiveness in everything you do.

Tell me how this impacted your life? Give me some feedback on how you are doing. And, if you liked this article like it and put a link on Facebook.

 

Don’t take anything for granted, live a great life. It’s up to you!

Robert Ridpath

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