The term mindfulness was first coined by a Buddhist scholar at the beginning of the 20th Century. He was searching for a word to help us pay attention, slow down and be fully present with the things we are doing. It’s really hard to slow down and notice things in this busy world.
Practicing mindfulness is a little like throwing yeast and flour at a baker—if she doesn’t practice, she’ll never discover the perfection of focaccia.
Being mindful is actually a lot simpler than you think. It means bringing your attention to whatever you are doing at that moment. Instead of stressing about the buns in the oven or worrying about fallen cookies, you focus on whatever you are doing in the now. Now is all we ever have.
There are so many benefits to mindfulness. It helps reduce stress and protects your mental health. And, people that practice mindfulness daily are usually happier.
If you want to delve deeper, you might think about investing in a mindfulness journal to teach you how to be mindful. It can show you how to get started with mediation, which is the first step to practicing mindfulness.
Another very simple way to bring mindfulness into your daily habit is to eat mindfully.
I am the first one guilty of gobbling food in front of the TV or wolfing down scones looking at my phone. When I do this, I am not really paying attention to what I am eating. Nor am I fully savoring the flavors, textures and subtleties of the food.
My grandfather chewed slowly at every meal and was always the last one finished. He didn’t speak much but really took the time to enjoy everything my grandmother cooked, be it kuchen or kraut. He lived to be 89 and was healthy and vibrant until his last days.
I believe eating mindfully has a lot of physical and mental health benefits. Here are just a few reasons why we should practice mindful eating at each meal.
It May Help You Lose Some Pounds
When I was young, I tried the cabbage soup diet and then the Atkins diet—anything to shed a few jelly rolls. There are many diet schemes and regimes that claim to hold the key to sustained weight loss, but studies show they rarely work.
The best way to lose weight is not to follow an extreme diet, but to maintain a healthy organic diet that is sustainable long term.
Mindful eating helps with this immensely because you’re paying more attention to what you are putting into your body.
If we are present when snacking, we might just notice that we’ve had one too many brownies. We may feel how heavy our belly feels after a few. Snaking on homemade pickles and tahini-filled celery stalks may feel lighter.
When I start paying attention to what I am eating and how I feel, I begin to make better choices about what passes through these lips.
When I eat with presence, I also tend to eat less.
When I’m eating slower, and with intention, I can better feel when my body is full. I have begun to limit my portion size as a result. Sometimes I use smaller plates, and I feel gratified and satisfied with less.
We’ll Make More Sustainable Choices
Paying more attention to what we eat also means that we’ll make more sustainable choices about food. Mindful eating encourages us to think more about the source of our food, how it was grown, raised, manufactured and transported.
As a result, we may be more inclined to buy organic meat, produce, milk and eggs. If we eat more organic food, it will have a better impact on the environment, the farmers and even our health.
The Organic Center posted an editorial published in the medical journal The Lancet that highlights some important details on the human health benefits of organic food. The editorial emphasized the benefits of an organic diet as a means to reduce exposure to synthetic pesticides (many of which are considered neurotoxic, endocrine-disruptive, or carcinogenic), toxic heavy metals, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”
We’ll Find More Pleasure in Eating
We are all rushing back to eat at restaurants again—the reason why? Because the food is the main even, we’re not being distracted by other things. Although it is a social experience, we’re likely more focused on the food and enjoying it more.
When we eat at home, it’s usually just a necessity. Even if I spend time preparing a delicious meal, I won’t get the full enjoyment, unless I’m present while I’m eating.
I’ve learned that when you start to practice mindful eating, you take a lot more pleasure in the food that you cook and eat, and this actually has a lot of health benefits.
Approaching meals mindfully isn’t just about upgrading your awareness—it can enhance your digestion, satisfaction and metabolism, too.
I’ve taken a vow to begin practicing mindful eating every time I eat. I will be happier, fitter and healthier as a result.
Tell me about your experience with mindful eating.