“Mindful eating means simply eating or drinking while being aware of each bite or sip.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh
You had a busy day at office, so busy that you did not eat your lunch. You are starving and waiting for a treat something good for dinner. What it could be? Pizza, Chocolate Ice- cream, lemon tart… For me it would be piping hot Moong dal halwa.
You cook or order your favourite meal and start to enjoy your treat. The first bite was bliss, delicious, too yummy. The second bite tasted good but not as blissful as the first one. You decide to catch up on the news or your favourite daily soap on television along with food. Something interesting catch your eye. You continue to eat while watching what caught your eye. Suddenly you look at your plate and the treat is finished.
But there was no taste or fragrance of it anymore. What happened? Did the food lose its taste or fragrance? No for sure. What actually happened was, you lost your focus on the treat. ‘You were not mindful about eating.’ You have an urge to get a second helping and inner voice reminds, “ you are on weight loss program, you must mind how much you are eating.”
This happens with most of us many a times. We either starve ourselves or tend to overeat because we were too busy to listen when our body wanted more or signaled to stop.
Mindful eating is just not about counting the calories or minding the portion on your plate. It is about being in the present with food without any distractions; your mobile phone, the television or your laptop. It is about enjoying the taste, the aroma of the food in front of you. Paying attention to the colours, textures, layout, sound (crunch) of the food, and the experience of your body when you are eating.
Be aware how the food is affecting your body inside and outside. Let your body assimilate the juices and take proper nutrients from what you are eating.
Let us look at the following situations:
- It is raining and you prepared a cup of hot tea or coffee for you, took a sip or two. Ah!, it smells good and delicious. As a habit you grab a book to read…
- You sat at the table to eat. Your phone beeps, a message or a mail, or may be you see a number flashing on the screen. You pick up your phone and attend to it…
- It is time for family dinner. Everybody in the house is at the dinner table, the food is laid. Your husband starts sharing an interesting incident from office. You all get involved in a discussion…
The book, the phone and the chit chat are nothing but distractions which took your mind away from food.
You must have noticed that your emotions and feelings affect how the food tastes. And, also the food you eat affects your emotions. The distractions are creating different emotions and affect your eating. So next time you have the urge to pull a book or take that call, notice the impulse put this impulse aside and RETURN TO EATING.
They say, “Old habits die hard.” It won’t be easy (and not impossible) to bring changes and start mindful eating.
Start with few simple steps:
- Try to take first five sips of your hot coffee or tea or chilled juice with full attention.
- If you are eating and reading, try to alternate the two activities. Put that book aside and focus on eating.
- At family dinners, try to have first ten minutes as compulsory silent eating. No conversation for at least ten minutes.
- Try and eat at least one meal once a week mindfully.
- Try to eat your lunch alone at your work station with the computer turned off.
These small steps will lead you to lasting changes. Remember, ‘patience is the key’.