It’s hard to believe that obesity and weight-related illnesses and conditions are on the rise. Don’t we know better by now? It would seem not.
Actually, it seems that we do know better, but we aren’t taking action with the information we have at our disposal.
Over the last few years, growing conversations around mindfulness have come about and experts are saying that we should be mindful – present – in everything we do, including when we eat our food.
For a long time, food was thought to be a way to comfort ourselves, reward ourselves, and even punish ourselves.
We strip food of its nutrients, bag it, box it, and turn it into something totally unrecognizable and wonder why we are so unhealthy at the end of the day.
Now, people are turning toward a life of mindfulness and it’s having amazing effects on their happiness and their health.
When we make eating about an experience, and not entertainment, everything can change.
Here are 5 ways you can get back to the basics of a happier life with mindful eating.
1) Give it time.
One of the common mistakes we make around food is grabbing it on the go. We eat in our cars, our offices, our beds, and everywhere in between!
No wonder we have weight problems. When we think about mindful eating, you need to give yourself a certain amount of time to not only enjoy the food you are going to eat, but also process and digest the food.
If you fill up before going to bed, your body struggles to work hard over night to break down those foods at a time when your body should be focusing on repairing itself from the day’s adventures and movements.
Instead, have set meals times when you will mindfully eat, and focus on your food.
2) Pay attention.
It’s important that you learn how your body responds to certain foods. For example, nobody feels great after eating a greasy hamburger.
Sure, it tastes good, but after a while, even the most delicious hamburger starts to taste like cardboard, and it fills you up fast.
Humans eat a lot more food than we need to survive, so pay attention to how full you get, how fast, and how much food it takes to fill you up.
The goal is to not walk away from the table having to unbutton your pants. You should feel good about what you’ve eaten, not like you need a nap.
3) Check your surroundings.
It’s easy to be distracted these days with phones and television and everyone vying for our attention. There’s no end in sight to these “busy times.”
But when it comes to eating mindfully, it’s important to put down the phone, get out of bed, off the couch, and sit at the table.
Eat your meals in a designated spot so that your brain and body know that it’s time to eat. Family dinner might have gone out the window, but it’s easy to bring it back.
Get everyone around the table and serve an actual meal with healthy alternatives and talk to one another. You might be surprised by what you hear!
4) Remove meaning from food.
Instead of thinking that you need an ice cream when you are sad, spend some time exploring why you are sad in the first place.
This is a very common practice in weight loss programs that teach people to pay attention to emotional triggers related to food.
It’s our go-to every time we feel crappy about our lives. What’s that all about? If you can block those feelings associated with food, or even improve them slightly, you will find yourself eating less, feeling better, and not stuffing your face when the boss yells at you.
5) Trace the food’s path to you.
If you want to enjoy a mindful meal, think about where your food came from as you are eating it. No, you don’t need to think about the slaughterhouse.
But think about the farmer who raise the cow. Think about the farmer’s wife who helped on the farm and took care of the children.
Think about the truck drivers who brought the beef to your butcher. Think about the lakes and streams where the water comes from that you drink.
Think about the trees that grow the fruit. It can help you connect to your food, and your eating experience, in a whole new way!