Today’s goal is to practice mindful eating at every meal. The aim is to be consciously aware and present with everything you choose to eat throughout the day.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is about being conscious and fully present when you eat. Instead of rushing through your meal, you consciously chew taste, and savor each and every mouthful.
Food is a sensual pleasure, so to enjoy it fully we need to slow down. By chewing properly, we can taste the flavors and feel the texture of the food in our mouths.
Why Mindful Eating?
A lot of people rush their meals and eat while they are feeling stressed, when watching TV, working on their laptops, and making phone calls. In London, I’ve seen people eating while standing on the busy tube, jammed up between fellow commuters at rush hour!
Continuously eating on the go is detrimental to our digestive health and severely limits our absorption of nutrients. We have all heard of the old saying “you are what you eat” but “you are what you absorb” is actually far more accurate.
Digestion begins in our mouths. When we chew, salivary enzymes start breaking food down into smaller, more digestible particles. If we rush chewing and don’t chew enough, food is swallowed in chunks. Large pieces of food are sent to the digestive tract where it takes the stomach longer to process. The potential result is undigested food that stays in our digestive system for longer than it is supposed to.
When we eat when we’re not relaxed, i.e. in ”fight or flight” mode rather than “rest and digest” mode, the undigested food in our intestine can become a breeding ground for bad bacteria and contribute to constipation, bloating gas, and abdominal discomfort.
How to Practice Mindful Eating
Before eating, take 3 deep breaths to help you activate your parasympathetic nervous system, and switch into “rest and digest” mode.
Take a bite of your food and bring your attention and awareness to the physical sensation of eating, to the present moment.
Chew each mouthful slowly and consciously, until the food in your mouth is properly broken down (depending on the density of the food this could involve chewing 40-80 times). You don’t necessarily need to count the mouthfuls, it’s more about getting used to being aware of all the sensations in your mouth and feeling the food is properly broken down, before swallowing.
Practice placing your spoon or fork down in between mouthfuls to slow down the time it takes to it eat. You are also giving your system time to absorb the nutrients.
While you are eating, focus just on eating. Put away any distractions, especially your phone. Dedicate your time to eating and appreciating your food.
Once you’ve developed more mindful eating habits, the next step is to rebalance your diet. On day two we will show you how balancing your fatty acid intake can improve your memory, focus, and overall brain health.
Check out my nutrition hack to shift your wellness for day 2.