We are busy creatures. Our lives are full with work schedules, home schedules, kids schedules and we even have to schedule all of our down time! A quick bite here, a burger in the car or a smoothie at a soccer game seems to be the way that a lot of us eat. Because of this we suffer from all sorts of digestive issues as well as weight problems. How can we start to combat all of our food issues? By stopping and thinking about what we are doing. Here are some things to consider to help you down the path to healthy, mindful meals.
Are You Really Hungry? - Before you eat that cookie or box of fries, are you eating it because you are truly hungry? Take time to think about how your body feels. Are you bored? Upset about something? Super tired? These are all things that we sometimes try to "fix" with food. Take a minute to see what your body is telling you. It's better to eat less more times a day and take the time to really think about what you are eating and why. Don't let yourself go until you are ravenous. This leads to overeating and digestive problems and can lead to blood sugar issues.
Don't Get Distracted - Have you ever been driving or watching TV and eating, and before you know it the food is gone and you don't even remember eating it? If you take time to pay attention while you are eating a meal, chances are you won't leave that meal feeling unsatisfied and still hungry. Even scrolling through your phone can keep you from mindfully eating.
Be Thankful - You may not know what it is like to wonder where your next meal is coming from and how thankful you may be for that next meal. The old saying that you used to hear was "finish your dinner because there are children starving in (put in name of country here)". The whole idea behind that is to be thankful because you are fortunate to have food to eat because so many people don't.
Slow it Down - Another thing to do to be mindful as you eat is to take it slow. Take the time to chew your food, savor the flavor and appreciate each bite. Not only will this give your mind time to know that you are getting fed (it takes about 20 minutes to help your brain give your body that full feeling) but it will help keep you from eating more than you should.
Use All Senses - Another way to mindfully eat is to use all of your senses. Take time to look at the food and notice how it smells. Take a bite and think of how it feels in your mouth. Notice the temperature, the texture and the taste. Think of how it feels to actually swallow the food. This might sound a little bit time consuming, but think of all the times you have gotten hiccups for eating too fast, or food "stuck" as it goes down or had heartburn from overeating some spicy food.
Food isn't only fuel for our body. It's a way we show love to our families and friends. It's a vehicle we use to celebrate triumphs and tragedies and even just for recreation. However if we aren't mindful when we eat we can miss some of the blessings it can give us and food can even become a hazard to our health if we don't take the time to be mindful when we eat.