One of the things I LOVE about cooking is that cooking a meal is one of the most personal things you can do for someone. You’re literally providing plated nourishment made with your own hands and creativity. Even if you’re following a recipe, you picked the recipe and planned the meal, didn’t you?
The speciality of a home-cooked meal is the feeling of abundance it provides. Everything you have and need is right in the front of you within arms reach. The fragrance of garlic, the crackle from the skillet, and the sight of a perfectly roasted bird coming out from the oven…. DIVINE! Cooking speaks to all of my senses. It’s a joy I’m so proud to know! But most importantly; with my Passion for Food comes Mindful Eating.
”Mindful eating is about using mindfulness to reach a state of full attention to your experiences, cravings and physical cues when eating.”
Fundamentally, Mindful Eating involves:
- Eating slowly and without distraction.
- Listening to physical hunger cues and eating only until you’re full.
- Distinguishing between actual hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating.
- Engaging your senses by noticing colours, smells, sounds, textures and tastes.
- Learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food.
- Eating to maintain overall health and well-being.
- Noticing the effects food has on your feelings and figure.
- Appreciating your food.
These things allow you to replace automatic thoughts and reactions with more conscious, healthier responses.
Here are some of my favourite tips to introduce mindfulness to mealtimes in an easy, accessible fashion.
Eating slowly doesn’t have to mean taking it to extremes. Still, it’s a good idea to remind yourself, and your family, that eating is not a race. Taking the time to savour and enjoy your food is one of the healthiest things you can do. You are more likely to notice when you are full, you’ll chew your food more and hence digest it more easily, and you’ll probably find yourself noticing flavours you might otherwise have missed.
Savour the silence
Silence the phone. Shut off the TV. Our daily lives are full of distractions, and it’s not uncommon for families to eat with the TV blaring or one family member or another fiddling with their iPhone. Consider making family mealtime, which should, of course, be eaten together, an electronics-free zone.
Pay attention to flavour
The tanginess of a lemon, the spiciness of arugula, the crunch of a pizza crust — paying attention to the details of our food can be a great way to start eating mindfully. This scene from ‘Ratatouille’ describes what I am trying to say perfectly.
Know your food
Mindfulness is really about rekindling a relationship with our food. From planting a veggie garden through baking bread to visiting a farmers market, many of the things we locavores have been preaching about for years are not just ways to cut our carbon footprint, but also connect with the story behind our food.
”We only have one body, and you have to show respect for it.” #MireilleGuiliano
Even when you have no idea where the food you are eating has come from, try asking yourself some questions about the possibilities: Who grew this? How? Where did it come from? How did it get here? Chances are, you’ll not only gain a deeper appreciation for your food, but you’ll find your shopping habits changing in the process too.
Mindful Eating Challenge
Sit down and eat a healthy meal, properly, without distractions.
That means no TV; no internet; no radio in the background. Sit at the table, and really pay attention to what you are eating. Chew your food slowly, pay attention to how it feels and tastes in your mouth. Put your cutlery down between mouthfuls as well!
WHEN WE LIVE SUCH HECTIC LIVES, SITTING DOWN TO QUIETLY ENJOY A MEAL WITHOUT ALSO USING THE TIME TO CHECK EMAILS OR CATCH UP ON WORK IS A REAL LUXURY, DON’T YOU THINK?