Boost Your Training with Mindful Eating
Post written by Anne Vale
You know by now the principles of mindfulness. Experience things fully, don’t do anything ‘mindlessly’, live from your center, know yourself and your world. It’s important to apply these principles widely to your life. But you’ll experience possibly the best mindfulness effects if you make an effort to eat mindfully. Struggling to lose weight, to ditch the junk food, to be the healthy, happy individual you want to be? Read on.
You won’t be shocked to hear that many modern humans have a pretty messed up relationship with food. This isn’t entirely our fault - we’re sold addictive foodstuffs, and are disconnected from the gathering, preparing, and eating methods we evolved to use. We’ve consequently got a major health crisis on our hands, with more or less everything from the obvious (obesity) to the obtuse (addictive disorders) being exacerbated by our shockingly poor diets. We cannot, on an individual level, change the toxic system which is pushing these artificially enhanced poisons on the suffering populace. But we can opt out of it - and, by so doing, hope that others will follow our example. How do we do this? Well, for a start we can eat better foods. But we can also change the way in which we eat them (or rather, the way in which we experience that eating). Eating ‘mindlessly’ is a major component of our current unhealthy diets. When we brainlessly shovel food into our mouths without really experiencing it, we’re unconsciously contributing to a mindset which views food as worthless, disposable, and basically unimportant. When you think that food is unimportant, you think of it as a consequence-free commodity. Which, as the straining waistlines and struggling bariatric units with which our nation is increasingly populated will tell you, it is very much not.
So how can one eat more mindfully? Well, there’s no one size fits all answer. As with everything, it all depends greatly upon your individual mindset and the way in which mindfulness works best for you. Some people advocate a pre-eating ritual wherein one makes an effort to properly acquaint themselves with what they’ll be eating - touching, smelling, viewing and so on. Some find this a bit awkward, and opt for a more pragmatic approach. Whatever works for you, really! In general, it’s best to fully concentrate upon what you’re eating. Savor every mouthful. Enjoy all of the intricate flavors and textures. Really experience your food. That means no snacking in front of the television, no absently feeding yourself while you’re attention is fixed on your phone, your computer, your newspaper or whatever. In this day and age, when we’re very used to overloading our senses from multiple sources more or less constantly, the act of devoting our entire attention to one thing can seem strangely daunting. Won’t you be horribly bored? Well, until you get used to it, you probably will find your attention wandering a little. However, stick at it. After a while, you’ll find that you’ll enjoy the food you’re eating far, far more than you ever thought possible. Rather than diluting your sensory input by spreading your attention over a wide range of things, concentrating purely on the experience of eating allows you to get the full and wonderful experience. This helps with weight loss and a healthy attitude towards food on a number of levels. For one thing, it prevents you from thinking of what you eat as a disposable, worthless, and consequence free commodity. By eating mindfully, you reassign worth to food in your subconscious, which after a while means that you’ll find yourself automatically making more considered dietary choices. For another, fully experiencing your food tends to mean that you actually need less of it in order to be satisfied. It also means that you’re more likely to make those all-important psychological connections between unhealthy foods and their unpleasant consequences. Something as simple as just eating your food more slowly by consciously chewing for longer (thereby thinking about what you’re doing, and giving yourself time to savor it) can have a really positive impact upon your waistline. On the most basic and most important level, eating mindfully can 'rewrite' your psychological and emotional relationship with your food - which is crucial for developing healthy eating habits.