Cultivate a healthy relationship with food: Mindful Eating

Cultivate a healthy relationship with food: Mindful Eating

It’s been a long day at work and you slump onto your sofa, grab a packet of your favourite nachos and dig in as you binge-watch your favourite show before you realise you have finished the entire packet, just to head out to your tuck cupboard to get another one. Does this resonate with you? How often have you caught yourself immersed in a viral video while having your meal at the cafeteria? Isn’t it hard to take your eyes off the video, and there you find yourself digging into another piece of flatbread or another serving of rice, without even pausing to check if you are half full? While this might seem like the best way to bust the pent-up stress, a way to divert one’s mind from your inner struggles, it could be a deadly recipe for a disaster!

Munching on food is not a bad thing, but when it happens consistently, it can hamper your health in the long run creating undesirable effects. If you are someone who has been following a diet then unmindful/ binge eating can get you off track and affect your diet regimen. One can feel trapped in this vicious cycle of stress eating, satiating your taste buds to a point that you don’t really get signals that you are full and again feeling even more sapped of energy and stressed!

Mindful eating doesn’t happen overnight but needs to be inculcated to reap the nourishment from food that your body requires. It takes tons of time and practice. With the constant barrage of distractions, the act of eating has often become a mindless routine for many. This disconnect from the act of eating can lead to overeating, emotional eating, and an unhealthy relationship with food. To quote a famous Sanskrit shloka from our scriptures “Annam Brahma”- food is God/Brahma, engaging in unmindful eating equals disrespecting the food on our plate and in turn the Lord who provides for us.

The practice of mindful eating has been followed since time immemorial. As we look back, we are reminded of our ancestors and previous generations, savouring and relishing food while seated cross-legged on the floor being served by their loved ones! This sort of scenario has almost dwindled in today’s times.

Mindful Nourishment

Eat right to feel right!!

  • Eliminate Distractions: Put away your phone, turn off the TV and find a calm, quiet space to eat. This allows you to fully engage with your food. To prepare your body for the meal,  before you start eating take a moment to absorb the appearance of your food and appreciate your meal. Absorb/ soak in the colours and textures displayed on your plate with all your gifted senses.
  • Slow down and Chew Thoroughly: Rushing through meals has become a common practice among people but mindful eating tells you to eat your meal slowly. Chewing food not only aids digestion but also allows you to enjoy the taste and texture of the food you eat.
  • Listen to Your Body’s signals: Pause occasionally to increase- tune into your level of fullness every time you eat. Always pay attention to your body and eat when you’re genuinely hungry and stop eating when you feel full, do not overly full yourself.
  • Embrace Non-Judgmental Awareness: Never name the food you eat as “good” or “bad.” Always eat your food without judgment and focus on nourishing your body with a variety of tasty foods.
  • Practice Awareness: Ensure you are aware of what you are eating. Pay attention to your emotions. By developing a greater sense of self-awareness, you can better understand your relationship with food. 
  • Practice Gratitude and Appreciation: We need to have gratitude for the food on our plate, food travels a long and arduous journey before we savour it! How often do we converge all our senses towards what’s on our plate and relish every morsel of food and every bite? Just pause for a while and say a thank you prayer to all the stakeholders from the farmers to our mothers and caregivers who arduously toil either on the farm or in the kitchens to get the most nourishing food to our plates.
Healthy Eating, Happy Life

The Benefits of Mindful Eating

  • Weight Management: Mindful eating helps prevent overeating and encourages you to have healthier weight management. It helps you to respond to hunger rather than emotional triggers or external cues.
  • Improved Digestion: Eating and chewing food slowly can aid digestion and reduce digestive discomfort, allowing the body to better absorb nutrients. Enjoying every bite of food and fully engaging in the eating experience can help your body absorb the nutrition from the food down and relax, take a few deep breaths -fuel for the digestion process, be in the moment, savour the texture, flavour and enjoy the colours on your plate, all this may seem trivial but can play a huge role in the process of digestion.
  • Emotional Regulation: It helps to reduce emotional eating practices, which helps you to develop healthier ways to deal with stress or emotional challenges.
  • Better Food Choices: When you’re aware of what your body needs, you tend to make balanced and nutritious food choices. The interconnectedness between food and mood is an irrefutable factor in the food choices we make! Being aware of our thoughts and feelings can surely help us to make better choices, it requires a whole lot of self-control and restraint from overindulging just to feed an emotion! Mindful eating is a journey with yourself, developing better self awareness and self-regulation will be the key traits to develop to not fall prey to our monkey minds.
  • Stress Reduction and Anxiety: To manage stress, eating properly is a main factor. Focusing on eating at the present moment can help break the cycle of stress related to emotional eating.