Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How To Practice Mindfulness: Eating Mindfully.

Mindfulness series are going strong with a post every Wednesday at Eclectic Alu. Have you practiced any of these techniques, yet? 

The best part of mindful eating is that it's good news. There are no diets here. There's no good or bad food. 

Although I've been learning about this for a while, I only was able to eat mindfully for half a meal. Which is a lot! Distractions come up and this things take time. It's a learning process. But I have noticed one thing. I'm starting to listen and understand what my body and my emotions are telling me. Am I really hungry? Am I thirsty? Am I anxious?

So, what is mindful eating? 

Mindful eating is the opposite to eating mindlessly, i.e, in front of the TV watching your favorite show, not being 100% sure whether it was you or not, the one who finished the empty pint of Ben & Jerry's resting on your coffee table.

It's applying the same core concepts we saw on previous mindfulness posts. Awareness, without judgement or criticism, and redirecting our mind to what we are feeling at the moment, only in this case, in relation to what we put into our mouths. We do this to stay connected to ourselves. To become aware and know our body.

Used for treating specific eating disorders, mindful eating involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking. It's becoming aware of the smells, the textures, the colors of the food, whether it's hot or cold. Or even if it makes any sounds when we chew it. We maintain an awareness, throughout this experience, of what goes on inside and outside of our body. Room temperature, sounds, and so on. All this, without judgement or criticism. We are simply being aware.

As we practice, we will get distracted... 

In the process, I, more often than not, find hard to redirect my thoughts to what I'm eating or drinking at a specific moment. So letting those intrusive and distracting thoughts pass by is part of the trick.

Having said that, I'm already seeing the benefits. Whenever I see myself walking towards the cookie jar, I pause for a second and rethink the strategy. Do I really need another cookie? Would it feel nice if I ate a fruit? Am I hungry, or thirsty, or simply anxious? Don't get me wrong, we are talking about my food weakness here...If the answer is that I want a cookie then, by all means, I ENJOY it. 

However, the beauty of eating mindfully is that, in time, you will find yourself reaching for the "cookie jar" or (insert favorite food here) less and less. You will be listening to your emotions, your body, and its needs. And usually what you really need is food that provides nutrition. Luckily, if we listen, our wise body tends to make balanced food choices.

Mindful eating helps reconnect ourselves to what our body needs. It helps us become aware of what foods make us feel good and healthy and which ones make us feel sick or tired. Also we learn to detect whether we are satiated or not. 

One more thing!! I'm practicing mindful eating with my kids. There's no age limit to do so and it's highly beneficial.

Here's a guided meditation for mindful eating, if you are interested.


P.S. More on Mindfulness. 

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