When it comes to nutrition, there is more to being healthy than just eating the right foods. Our mood, environment and thoughts also have an affect on how our body absorbs nutrients. This is where mindfulness comes into play.
Now you may think this a little too “airy fairy” for you but here are three factors I like to bear in mind when it comes to mindful eating.
1. Being mindful of the food I’m choosing to buy and prepare.
2. Being mindful of my environment and mood while cooking.
3. Being mindful of how I’m eating.
Let me now break that down for you…
1. Very often we make unconscious food choices when we’re rushing around, eating on the go or out at restaurants.
One thing I always do before I eat anything is to take a moment to think about what benefits that food is going to provide me.
For example: Is it something that will give me more energy or make me feel lethargic? Is it going to be filling rather than bloating? Is it something my body actually needs as opposed to something it may emotionally want?
2. I strongly believe the way we feel while we are cooking, believe it or not, affects the food that ends up on our plate. Food is made up of energy, thoughts are also energy and if we are feeling angry or stressed while preparing food, that energy is going to be transferred into the food we are preparing.
Now that may sound like a bunch of mumbo jumbo but take a look at some of the experiments that have been done on water and rice. Such as the ones by Dr. Emoto (see link) http://themindunleashed.org/2014/01/scientific-proof-thoughts-intentions-can-alter-physical-world-around-us.html
Ok so they may not have been 100% proven scientifically yet but so much has not yet been proven by science as that research can take a while to catch up. Remember when we were told smoking wasn’t bad for us? Case in point.
I leave it up to you to make up your minds on this theory, but from my own personal experience I have found it to be true.
Ever been to a restaurant, had your meal and gone home feeling yucky but not understanding why?
Perhaps your meal was made by an angry, overly stressed, sweaty chef (think Gordon Ramsey).
Ever had a Granny who’s homemade soup tasted so good and her telling you “It’s been cooked with love”. There is a lot to be said about those words.
So when I cook for myself, and for others I try to do so in the most enjoyable way I can. Play some nice music in the background or whatever makes me feel happy.
3. Being mindful while you are eating.
How often do you scoff down a dinner or lunch while chatting on the phone or watching TV? Paying zero attention to chewing your food properly or stopping when you’re actually full?
We are so bombarded with technology and constant noise that we rarely sit down and truly appreciate the food we have in front of us.
I’m not a religious person at all, but I do like to take a second to appreciate the fact that I have food to eat at all and to be mindful while eating.
Chewing your food properly not only helps your digestion but it also slows you down so you start noticing when you’re actually full.
The following excerpt is taken from Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules” book.
“Many cultures practice stopping eating when you are 80% full. In Japan they even have a saying for this practice, “Hara Hachi Bu.”
In the India Ayurvedic tradition they practice stopping at 75% full. The Chinese say 70% full and there’s even a German expression that says: “You need to tie off the sack before it gets completely full.”
So: Ask yourself not, Am I full? But, Is my hunger gone? That moment should arrives several bites earlier than you’re used to.”
Finally stress plays a huge role on digestion. So eating when stressed, angry or upset is not a good idea. When stressed, our bodies go into “flight or fight” mode, and in doing so the body shuts off certain enzymes required for digestion. Bear that in mind next time you reach for the fridge right after a big fight with your partner.
Better to calm down first, take a breath and enjoy a mindful meal.