I have been reading a lot about the practice of mindfulness. Letting go of thoughts of the past or future, and really being present in the moment. Allowing your attention to focus solely on what is happening in the now, without any judgement or preconceived notions. I have been trying to practice being mindful through meditation. After one of my morning meditation practices, I started thinking about the art of being mindful in relation to food. I noticed just how disconnected I had become with the act of eating. Almost as if I had been going through the motions on autopilot.
We all know what autopilot is, right? An act or task that we perform so often that it becomes second nature. While it’s neat that our minds can perform said tasks automatically while focusing on something else, it’s also kind of disheartening. Take brushing your teeth for instance. You put the toothpaste on the brush, put the brush into your mouth, and what next? Next thing you know, you’re rinsing your mouth with water and the act is done. Where did your mind go during the brushing process? It’s the same thing with morning routines such as getting ready, driving to work, etc. The problem is, the more repetitive the task, the more often our minds turn to autopilot. Eventually we’re operating in a ‘dormant’ state for the majority of our days, and even lives.
Scary, isn’t it?
When I came to this realization, I also became aware that I was shifting into autopilot when I was eating . In my efforts to kick Ed to the curb, I knew I had to change my eating habits. I started to implement changes into my routine and immediately noticed a difference. While you may not have an eating disorder that you’re trying to kick, I do believe that some of these exercises will help you to become more mindful as well.
- Getting rid of distractions. When eating, just eat. Don’t watch television, read a book or text. Focus your attention on the smell and taste of the food and really enjoy the experience of nourishing your body.
- Take your time. Chew your food and really take your time eating. I know it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the daily grind, but sitting down for a meal is your time to slow down and give back to yourself.
- Probably my favourite of the three exercises is the practice of eating with your non dominant hand. One of the best ways to become mindful of your eating is to practice this. If you’re right handed, hold your utensil in your left hand. Using your non dominant hand forces you to focus more on what you’re doing, bringing you back to that seat of awareness. It also helps you to appreciate the plight of others who may have mobility issues.
Using these tools to practice mindful eating will help you to find more moments of clarity on a daily basis. Furthermore, it also forces you to slow down the process of eating. By slowing down the process, your body has the ability to actually detect the sensation of being full. This will help to avoid overeating, or if you’ve been acquainted with Ed, it can stop the act of binging (and purging). So, mindfulness and eating?!? Why not give it a try?
Just a little food for thought….