The ancient practice of paying attention to what you eat can be life-altering. Allow us to decode the awesome bio-hack of mindful eating for you. First up, what is mindful eating, the new buzzword in health and fitness?
You may have heard of mindfulness, the age-old Buddhist-inspired practise of living fully in the now. Mindfulness means slowing down, paying attention to whatever task you are doing in the present moment, and observing your thoughts and feelings around it. When you eat mindfully, you focus on the food you’re eating, the way you eat it, its taste, texture, and feel, and its nutritional value. You also focus on your own body’s response to different foods. The advantage to eating this way is that you end up eating slowly, eating healthy, and eating nourishing foods. Which of course means, a healthier body, glowing skin, and happier hair!
But how do you practice mindful eating, you might ask. Presenting to you 10 steps that’ll sort out mindful eating for you!
1. Ditch The Diet Mentality
We often think of eating healthy as being on a punishing diet or feel guilty about eating that slice of chocolate cake or pizza. The first step of mindful eating is to remove all negative associations around food. Food is health and life. Start feeling excited about the food you will buy, prepare, and eat. When you eat mindfully, you will end up eating healthy anyway, so you don’t need to worry about being on a diet or counting each calorie.
2. Visit A Physical Store For Daily Produce
In our busy post-pandemic lives, many of us tend to order our groceries online. And why not, since ordering online saves time and effort. However, shopping for groceries exclusively online can reduce our engagement with food. Therefore, plan a weekly visit to your neighbourhood veggie vendor, and feast your eyes on the colourful fruits and greens in front of you. Learn to tell the freshness of the produce you’re buying. You’ll be surprised how much fun this simple activity can be.
3. Prepare Food With Joy
Cooking and prepping food can be a fun activity by yourself, or with friends and family. Apply the principles of mindfulness to cooking. As you chop veggies, notice their texture and colour. Pay attention to the changing aromas as you cook. If cooking with people, make the food you’re cooking a conversation point. Bring attention even to the cookware and serving dishes you’re using. Mindful eating is all about making every step of the cooking and eating process a present, conscious, and thoroughly enjoyable activity.
4. Eat When You’re Actually Hungry
It’s important to recognize if you are eating out of hunger or boredom. Pay attention to your own behaviour to decode this. For instance, if you suddenly feel an urge for cookies after a stressful work call, it’s probably not real hunger, but a stress-induced craving. Eating only when your body is actually hungry is part of mindful eating. So, learn to tell empty cravings from real hunger. To deal with cravings, drink lots of water and eat nourishing foods, such as nuts and low-sugar fruits throughout the day. Also, find non-food-related ways to manage stress. Next time you feel a stress-induced craving, head out for a brisk walk or take a few deep breaths.
5. Drink Water Before You Eat
Drinking water 15-20 minutes before you eat can help avoid overeating and also helps you digest your food better. Avoid drinking water right after you eat as it hampers your digestion. Remember, mindful eating is also about eating and drinking consciously in a way that is best for your metabolism.
6. Keep Your Meal Portions Small
Let your first helping of food be small. Then savour every element of the food on the plate. Wait to see if you need another helping.
7. Eat Slowly & Chew Thoroughly
Yes, our grandparents had this bit of food knowledge right! Eating slowly while enjoying every bite of your food has the hidden advantage of making you avoid overeating. Chewing thoroughly helps you pay mindful attention to your metabolism and makes food easier to digest.
8. No Screens During Meals
The only other activity while eating should be conversations, and those conversations should be light and fun, ideally focused on the food you are eating. Watching screens while eating distracts you from the food on your plate, and can lead to bingeing.
9. Appreciate Your Meal
Appreciate the different sensorial aspects of the food at the table, whether it’s taste, smell, or look. Observe and enjoy each of these. Allow yourself to feel gratitude for the hot, nourishing food in front of you. If someone else has cooked for you, compliment them generously. You can even take a minute before meals to silently express gratitude to everyone who brought your food to you, from the farmers who grew crops, to the delivery executive who got the groceries.
10. Post-meal Mindfulness
Once you slow down and start eating mindfully, you can begin recognizing your body’s reactions to certain foods. For instance, do too many raw salads make you feel bloated? Does too much sugar in the morning make you feel sluggish for the rest of the day? And does drinking warm milk at the night help you sleep better? Understand these cues. Avoid foods which make your body feel worse. Consume more of the foods which help you feel calm and healthy throughout the day.
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