Most of the time we go through our day on autopilot. We move from one task to another, from one conversation to the next, moving about within our world and environment and – for the most part – responding to what happens around us. If asked what you had to eat yesterday, most people would frown and try to recall. It does not immediately come to mind because we don’t, usually, pay it any mind.
Mindful Eating is a simple way to take us out of autopilot and help us become more aware of what we are doing, now, what we are eating, and how we are eating. Why is this important?
It not only connects us to our food in a new and interesting way but has a profound effect on our day-to-day stress management.
Practically, this is how you can practice Mindful Eating. Like most things, it is better understood through experience and so try this for one week and see how the benefits begin to stack up:
Pick one meal each day. Breakfast is great for some, but not so great for others. It depends on your own schedule, travel or commuting obligations, early-morning commitments, and so on. Pick the meal you feel you will be able to engage with and that you will get the most out of the process.
Instead of scrolling your phone or watching a screen, simply eat that meal. Just eat. Don’t involve yourself with other things like your task list or email or social media. Just eat. Chew slowly and recognise each flavour. Smell each smell. Engage with the texture.
Be present with your food, and actively make the decision to do nothing else. Yes, you will feel the habitual pull towards reaching for your phone. Yes, you will find your mind wondering off towards your task list or a conversation you had yesterday. This is normal and natural and nothing to shame yourself about. You are not ‘failing’ at Mindful Eating. Instead – and when it happens – simply be aware of the thought in a non-judgemental way, and return your attention to your food. Sometimes it helps to mentally say “look, a thought” or “look, an image” and then return to your meal.
And you can also take Mindful Eating into your day. Before reaching for something to snack on – or take from a shelf at the supermarket – simply ask: is this my best choice, right now?