Mindful Eating doesn't mean eating like a monk. It's about paying more attention, tuning in and being curious.
Mindful eating is not mysterious or difficult. It’s not the preserve of monks or the enlightened, you don’t have to practice meditation or Buddhism, you don’t have to eat cross legged on the floor in complete silence. Mindful eating is simply about paying attention and making the act of eating the activity we focus on when we are doing it. And there are lots of benefits but rather than listing them all here, I’m much more interested in hearing what benefits you discover when you have a go.
Many of us eat mindlessly. We go unconscious when we eat and in some cases that’s the main point of the eating, right? Sometimes the whole point of eating is to be the opposite of mindful. We eat to numb ourselves, to go unconscious, to zone out, to distract and soothe and comfort. So if we want to eat more mindfully, the first step is to acknowledge all the times when mindlessness (rather than nutritional nourishment) is the goal. It’s a bit of a paradox to overeat mindfully. Would you be willing to have a go? Just once? To see what it’s like. It’s fascinating, that I can guarantee you.
We asked our community to share their Top Tips on Mindful Eating last weekend's "Coming out of Lockdown the Beyond Chocolate way" workshop. Here are some great ideas to experiment with practicing mindful eating...
"I have a great restaurant near me that does a poke bowl which is a salad with rice and other yummy things probably similar to a Buddha bowl. I always feel satisfied after having one."
"Slow it down. I also find having lots of different foods and tastes on a plate really helps with the mindfulness."
"I give myself permission to enjoy the break that food gives to a working day. Taking the break properly."
"I would never have chosen a biscuit without chocolate/cream before Beyond Chocolate, but really focusing on the digestive, and really tasting it, means it's now my favourite biscuit!"
Start Again Anytime
"My top tip for mindful eating is you can do it at any point in your meal. If you realise your attention is drifting or that you haven't tuned-in to your meal at all, you don't need to wait til next time. You can refocus multiple times in a meal."
"Stopping and pausing throughout a meal helps me!"
"Mindful eating for me, that I can apply in everyday life, means: choosing food I enjoy; slowing down a bit; trying to catch myself if I drift into 'automatic eating'; and keep an eye out for that feeling that the food has become less interesting or a little sigh - often these are the clear signs that I have eaten enough and am satisfied."
I’ve started serving myself half the food I think I’d like so that there’s a built in pause before I automatically eat the second half
Put It On A Plate, Sit Down & Focus
"Still very much working on this one. Having said that, I do put all food on a plate now and eat it at the table."
"I tend to wander about with breakfast, but do sit down at a table for other meals."
"Eating at the table is what really helps me (no TV!) - this is still a work in progress but I notice much better when I do this."
"Even if i'm not at the table, I'll put crisps etc into a bowl. It's nearly always enough, but I know I can have more if I want them."
"I like crisps if I have a sandwich but I am happy to just empty a few out on to my plate and put a clip on the packet for another day. Some mini eggs in a small dish helps me to notice what I was eating. We eat mainly at the table, mats, napkins, candle."
"If you're used to eating in front of the tv with your phone in your hand you don't have to go cold turkey and sit in silence. You can cut out distractions gradually."
For People With Families
"It can be challenging with a family. I really enjoy the choosing and preparing food now though and I'm looking forward to it rather than it being 'prescribed' by the diet"
"Forgiveness is key!! With a 6 and 3 year old, the day can be mad and messy - I tune in during the day and at the end of the day when its just me and my thoughts - I journal what I ate and why I ate - did I need? how did it make me feel? did I enjoy it? I reflect on my decisions and if the food didn't fill the hunger as maybe I was actually emotional or tired or bored. So I write a few suggestions down for the next day to think about e.g. when I'm emotional give the kids a hug, put a Disney film on, be kind to myself."