The Act of Mindful Eating

By Matt Straight

Take a moment to think about the last time you sat down to eat. Maybe you weren’t sitting. Maybe you were hovering in the kitchen as you prepared your children’s lunches, were eating on the run or in the car on the way to work.

If you were sitting down, was it in a peaceful place? Were you checking Facebook or posting a picture of what you were eating on Instagram?
Quite often when we eat, we are so distracted, we very rarely focus on and taste the food we are about to eat. Now I am not a religious person in any shape or form, however one thing that really resonates with me is giving thanks to the food you are about to receive. Christians call it “Saying Grace”, I call it being mindful and showing gratitude for the nutrition I am about to receive. The fuel which not only allows me to survive, but also allows me to enjoy all the wonderful things life has to offer, with the people I love.

Over stimulation from the intensified tastes in modern processed foods and excessive use of technology has unfortunately left many of us detached from relationships from not only people, but the food we eat. Processed foods make up such a large portion of our diet these days which in addition to technology, leaves our minds and taste buds so overly stimulated, we require more and more stimulation to receive the same level of satisfaction we used to enjoy with so much less.

When was the last time you just sat still with no phone, no computer, no TV, just being present in the moment before you were about to enjoy a meal? I encourage you to try this.

Sit somewhere still, close your eyes and put a grape in your mouth without biting down immediately. Roll the grape around your mouth, feel the smooth texture with your tongue. Discover the smooth edges, maybe you will find a small tear where the stalk used to be. Imagine where the grape was just a few days ago, sitting on a vine, under the sun in a beautiful vineyard. Give thanks to the person who picked this little packet of goodness for you to enjoy. After a minute, bite down and focus on the explosion of sweetness as your taste buds dance around on your tongue. Other than sweet, what else can you taste? As you swallow the grape, give thanks for the nutrition your body is about to receive.

Being Mindful, Taking Time and Giving Thanks when you eat, prepares your body and mind to be in the right state to accept maximum nutrition from the food you are about to eat.

Taking more time and being present in the moment away from the distractions of technology, allows your body more time for digestion, sending a message to the brain that you are full so you are less likely to mindlessly over eat.

It makes you appreciate the food more so you actually taste the flavors as opposed to just inhaling your meal and getting on with your day. Again, if you enjoy your food, you are less likely to overeat.

Now I acknowledge that it’s not always practical to take one minute to eat one grape, but here are a few things you can do to be more mindful and present when you are fortunate to enjoy your next meal.

If you are at work, get away from your work station. Ideally leave your place of work and sit under a tree, on a park bench or even just sit in a quiet corner of a café.
Leave your phone on silent and refrain from surfing through your social media sites, texting or watching TV. If you are eating with friends or family, make a rule that no one is to use their phone until you leave the table.
Before taking a bite “Say Grace” and give thanks for the food you are about to receive. I mean, really give thanks. Don’t just say it in your mind. Feel it. Give genuine energy to that thought and truly give thanks for the animal that had to give its life to provide you with meat and to the miracle that vegetables grow from a tiny seed, nourished by the soil and given life by the sun.
Give thanks to the nutrition you are about to receive and all the amazing benefits the meal will provide every cell in your body.
Take time and chew chew chew! Taste everything on your plate. Chew it properly, feel the texture and savor the various flavors. You will appreciate your food more, be more satisfied and be less likely to over eat.

So next time you sit down to a meal, Be Mindful, Take Time and Give Thanks for the food that provides us life.

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