Mindfulness and Eating Table of Contents
Mindfulness and Eating is a series consisting of 3 parts.
- Mindfulness and Eating: The Art of Awareness, Pt 1
- Mindfulness and Eating: A Practice, Pt 2
- Mindfulness and Eating: Chewing and the Road to Enlightenment, Pt 3
If you change the way you eat you can change your life. Numerous life experiences can take us out of the present, as a way to protect us against discomfort. However, the present is where life is happening and where we have the privilege to create consciously. Being present will help us be mindful eaters, and mindful eating will help us be present. Mindful eating is a practice that helps us chew, digest and absorb our food and our thoughts, and to nourish us to live a happier life.
There can be more pleasure than we could possibly imagine, in a bite of food, if we were more present to it. Most of us aren’t present because we are avoiding discomfort. People eat too quickly to fill a void to manage their discomfort and miss out on the pleasure of the experience itself. This can lead to over eating, as eating isn’t satisfying if we aren’t present to experience it. Mindful eating can bring a vivid awareness to the colors, flavors, sounds and textures of food. Practicing mindful eating techniques can be one of the most delicious practices that lead us to the present.
Mindful eating begins with our sight. Notice what your food looks like! Eating foods that are pleasing to the eye adds extra nourishment to our experience. When we gaze at our food, we can become present to its artistic nature, its colors and textures. We can notice its beauty, or lack of it. We may take the extra time or effort to create food that is beautiful, when we experience how much it adds to our pleasure and nourishment.
Next, is our sense of smell. Smell, is directly connected to taste. Noticing the pleasing or displeasing qualities of the food we consume can keep us aware of healthy choices or quick taste bud satisfaction. Spending just a moment to tune into the aromas of our food can be like taking deep breaths in a meditation, intended to bring our attention to the moment. Inhaling and being present to the many different fragrances that make up a single bite can be an amazing experience. The more sensations we can be aware of, the more we can locate ourselves in the moment, the more power we have to be present and engaged in the joy, deliciousness and magic of life.
Awareness is increased when we touch our food, to our fingers (if appropriate) and of course, to our lips and tongue. Taking the time to notice temperature, and texture, and the places on our tongues where different flavors are activated, puts our awareness on the minute details of nourishment and pleasure. Can we be with the pleasure that it is? Or do we have a hard time accepting pleasure and therefore rushing through it? This is an important thought to consider.
Tasting food is one of the most exciting parts of eating. Often, we are eating too quickly, trying to get satisfaction from the next bite that we are preparing. Our attention is too often in the future, solving problems, or in the past, fearing and planning to avoid repeating old pains, and sadly reliving them in that attempt. Tasting our food puts us in the present, in our mouths. Many of us have different cravings for certain flavors over others. The tongue’s many taste buds allow us to experience explosions of sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, spicy and umami, (a special salty savory flavor). These flavors are incredible gifts that keep us coming back for more so that we can continue to nourish and sustain our species.
Listen to the sound of your chewing. This seemingly subtle sense becomes an all pervasive stereo blast when tuning into it. I never knew how loud a strawberry was until I mindfully chewed it all the way. The seeds that speckle the outside of a strawberry have a loud crunch that can fill your whole head and a 2 foot radius around you. Imagine how busy our minds must be if we can eat food without hearing it. Listening is a great key to the present moment.
When we really tune into what we are eating, we may be surprised that we love the idea of a food, more than the food itself. Tuning into the life giving nature of food, or life stealing nature of foods, and really tasting it, will help us make better choices.
Not only will we learn to be present, and tune into the moment, but for those of us who want to be fit, it will help us to lose weight. Mindful eating slows down the transit time of large amounts of food entering the stomach. The brain releases a hormone called leptin that signals the brain that the stomach is full. It takes about twenty minutes before this signal is sent. If we are eating quickly, then we can consume many meals in twenty minutes before we become aware that we should stop eating. Mindful eating increases chewing time, increases digestibility and therefore the body requires less mass, as it digests more efficiently.
Mindful eating is a practice that can increase awareness of the present moment. In the present moment there are countless amazing miracles right before our eyes and our taste buds, to appreciate. Mindful eating can be one of the most delicious paths to enlightenment.
Written by Jo Sutton: http://www.jo-esutton.com/