Do you think a lot about what you eat? With the way we’re constantly bombarded with warnings about obesity and dieting, it can be difficult not to overthink it. Meanwhile, many people with busy schedules do not have enough time to consider all of the details. Being mindful about food certainly isn’t a priority.
Mindfulness is a concept that has really taken off in the last few years, but you probably associate it most with trying to improve your mental health, particularly if you suffer from depression or anxiety. The idea of applying it to your diet may not have occurred to you. Nevertheless, when done properly, it may be able to improve your relationship with food and your body, restoring joy to eating and alleviating some of the associated pressures and judgment.
As with mindfulness in the more general sense, mindful eating is about becoming more aware of your body and what you are thinking and feeling. It’s about experiencing every sensation rather than pushing it aside. Conscious consideration becomes more important than unconscious reactions. Everything becomes more deliberate.
You can apply the principles of mindful eating at every stage of the process, starting when you’re first choosing a meal. You can think about where the food came from originally and how it came to you, who was involved in the preparation, and how it was prepared. Once it’s on your plate, you can experience it with all your senses: how it looks, the noises of eating, and the tastes and textures and smells both inside and outside of the body.
Consideration can be given to anything else that may be affecting your appetite, like your mood, the weather, work, the people around you and any other internal or external factors. Some people like to use deep breathing or meditation to help clear the mind before or after eating. Eventually, once you have finished your meal, you can express your gratitude for the food and reflect on how your body feels now and how it has changed since the start.
Anxiety in particular can lead to disordered eating habits. Mindfulness may help bring your diet back under your control, counteract feelings of guilt or shame, and encourage you to be more proactive in how you choose when and what to eat. This can all contribute to your physical and emotional wellbeing.