How many meals do you eat in front of the computer (or TV)?
What did you eat for lunch yesterday?
Recently, I was running a corporate health seminar and I posed the question to about 25 people:
“Who eats in front of the computer more than 3x per week?”
I was shocked to see every single person in the room put their hand up. That’s 100% of the room!
The next question I asked was:
“Who remembers what they had for lunch yesterday?
After some time about a third of the group hesitantly put their hand up. So, that’s only about 30% of the room.
Chances are if you don’t fully engage with the experience of eating your lunch you will not even remember what you ate later on that same day, let alone yesterday. Actually, research suggests that when we eat in front of the computer, we become hungry again approximately 20 minutes later and we usually crave sugary foods.
Like many things in our life, eating is one of those things we take for granted and there are so many examples of ‘mindless eating’. Some of us eat just for the sake of filling up, or we eat on the run or we sometimes even forget to eat because we are too busy.
The great thing about mindful eating is that it is the perfect way for us to connect with the present moment. Connecting with our food helps us to understand the inter-connectedness of everything and this gives us a genuine appreciation for our food. Not just what we are eating, but who we are with, where we are, how we feel and the total experience around us. Just think about going to nice cafe with friends and really enjoying the whole experience.
Being mindful while we are eating has a flow on effect that brings awareness and mindfulness to many other aspects of our life.
Here are 5 Great Tips to Eat More Mindfully.
- Am I really hungry?
Firstly, it’s important to recognise is it actual hunger you are feeling or are you eating for other reasons, like boredom, emotional eating, ‘it must be lunch-time, so I must time to eat’. There are so many other cues that give you a false sense of hunger, perhaps, it’s just a cup of tea or a drink you need, or maybe you just need a break from what you are doing. Learn to be aware of physical hunger cues to guide your decision to get something nourishing to eat.
- Create excitement around food
One of my best pastimes when travelling is visiting the colourful markets of the world. You can also do this at home by visiting local food markets and explore the many colours and aromas around you. Try to bring that same excitement when choosing your food, preparing your food and then enjoying it bite by bite.
- Turn off distractions
Many people find this surprisingly challenging but when you’re eating, try only eating and nothing else. Put away the phone, turn off the TV or computer, and don’t engage with work related tasks. Totally engage with your food with all your senses, enjoy the whole sensory experience.
- Chew, Munch, Chew!
Research says that the more you chew your food, the less likely you are to overeat. Some sources say 28 times per bite, but regardless of the exact number, chewing activates the digestive enzymes and helps to break down the food. Resist the temptation to swallow until your food is a smooth digestible consistency. Chew your food and savour each delicious bite.
- Try New Flavours
Be more adventurous with food choices, when we make our meal more special we are more likely to pay more attention to it. How many times do we choose our safe favourites from the menu? Try something different and taste the new flavours as if it is the first time you have tried it, bring that curious nature to your food. Maybe, even when you’re shopping buy a fruit or vegetable that you have never tried in your life before. Be adventurous!