Suggestions for mindful eating
Published: March 03, 2017 Last Updated: August 11, 2021
Paying attention to your relationship to food is important for your health. Listening to your body and observing the activity of your mind in relationship
to food can help you to make and maintain healthy changes in your diet.
When we are on automatic pilot, we tend to act (in this case, eat) first and only then become aware of what we have done and remember why we actually didn't really want to do it. Mindfulness of what we eat, how it tastes, where it comes from, what is in it and how we feel after we eat it, if practised consistently, can go a long way toward bringing change naturally to this highly charged and extremely important domain of our lives.
Try eating a meal mindfully, in silence. Slow down your movements enough so that you can watch the entire process carefully.
Observe the colours and textures of your food. Contemplate where this food comes from and how it was grown or made. Is it synthetic? Does it come from a factory? Was anything put into it? Can you see the efforts of all the other people who were involved in bringing it to you? Can you see how it was once connected to nature? Can you see the natural elements, the sunlight and the rain, in your vegetables and fruits and grains?
Ask yourself, do you want it?
Ask yourself if you want this food in your body before you eat it. How much of it do you want in your belly? Listen to your body while you are eating. Can you detect when it says “enough”? What do you do at this point? What impulses come up in your mind?
How does your body feel?
Be aware of how your body feels in the hours after you have eaten. Does it feel heavy or light? Do you feel tired or energetic? Do you have unusual amounts of gas or other symptoms of dysregulation? Can you relate these symptoms to the particular foods or combinations of foods to which you might be sensitive?
Read food labels
When shopping, try reading labels on food items such as cereal boxes, bread, frozen foods. What is in them? Are they high in fat, in animal fat? Do they have salt and sugar added? What are the first ingredients listed? (By law they have to be listed in decreasing order of amounts, with the first ingredient the most plentiful, etc.).
Be aware of cravings
Be aware of your cravings. Ask yourself where they come from? What do you really want? Are you going to get it from eating this particular food? Can you eat just a little of it? Are you addicted to it? Can you try letting go of it this once and just watch the craving as a thought or feeling? Can you think of something else to do at this moment that will be healthier and more personally satisfying than eating?
Prepare food mindfully
When preparing food, are you doing it mindfully? Try a peeling potatoes meditation or a chopping-carrots meditation. Can you be totally present with the peeling, with the chopping? Try to be aware of your breathing and your whole body as you peel or chop vegetables. What are the effects of doing things this way?
Review your favourite recipes
Look at your favourite recipes. What ingredients do they call for? How much cream, butter, eggs, lard, sugar, and salt is in them? Look around for alternatives if you decide that they are no longer what you want to be cooking. Many delicious recipes are now available that are low in fat, cholesterol, salt and sugar. Some use low-fat yoghurt instead of cream, olive oil instead of lard or butter, and fruit juices for sweetening.