Mindful eating is one of the most important concepts of the moment.
Getting into the habit of eating slowly, using all our senses to observe how we feel, manage our emotions better and achieve a state of enjoyment.
What is mindful eating ?
Mindfulness consists of focusing our attention on the present moment. The concept applies to all areas and can be used regardless of the action or lack of action being taken: it is about focusing on what is happening inside ourselves, by observing the thoughts, emotions and sensations that pass through us, or outside ourselves, by observing our environment. All the senses are therefore mobilised, hence the term mindfulness.
Beware of confusion – mindful eating is not a diet and while the method can help you lose weight, it is not intended to do so. Mindful eating is a way to relearn to listen to your body and make peace with your emotions. The concept is close to intuitive eating, but its goals are observation and acceptance, whereas the goal of intuitive eating is understanding. In reality, you rarely get one without the other.
Mindfulness and nutrition: a beneficial equation
Why should you eat mindfully? Essentially for your mental as well as physical well-being. By requiring that you take a real break for meals and anchoring you in the present moment, the method offers relaxing benefits. Mindfulness is widely touted as a calming technique used to keep thoughts from wandering. It also helps us better recognise and manage emotions and distinguish more easily between emotional hunger and true hunger, as well as recognise the signs that we are full.
From the body’s point of view, observing your emotions and sensations means eating more slowly and chewing, thus enhancing digestion. Eating mindfully also makes it easier to balance your diet and stabilise your weight, since the signals of being hungry or full are better heard and respected. Lastly, concentrating on your sensations teaches you to enjoy your food much more, so that you can eat with more intensity!
How to eat mindfully ?
Mindful eating requires time and practice to be effective. Start off slowly with one meal a day to help you get used to it. Also consider seeking guidance from a therapist or meditation app.
- Eat real meals, sitting down, quietly, without screens or other distractions.
- Set aside at least 20 minutes for the meal. In addition to providing a welcome break, this time is necessary for feelings of fullness to reach the brain.
- Ensure the quality of your meals with fresh, seasonal, organic food and colourful, nicely presented plates.
- Eat slowly, chewing and setting down your fork between each bite.
- Pay attention to colours, textures, flavours, consistency and heat. Be aware of what you feel – pleasure, satisfaction, frustration, comfort, etc.
- Don’t judge yourself. Your mind will inevitably drift – just refocus when you notice it happening!