you are what you eat
Take a minute and think about what eating means to you. Do you prepare your own food, do you shop for your own food? Where were the ingredients sourced? Do you live to eat or eat to live? This is a very interesting topic and it may play a part in weight loss and weight control.
I had to pleasure of speaking at a ladies forum recently and my topic was Mindful Eating. There has been some media attention to this topic recently and I found it to be very interesting. As Muslims, we are taught these eating practises from a very early age, for example pray your dua before eating, eat a palm sized portion, cover your hair before eating, take small bites, eat slowly etc. It is easy to forget these habits as life gets busy. Due to job deadlines and busy lives, we eat on the go. In the car, at the desk, while on the phone. Or have you ever taken a lunch break only to be distracted by social media while eating or a message on your cellphone, then you would continue to eat while on your smart phone and all of a sudden realise you had eaten an entire meal without realising it? Eating on the go often leaves us feeling unsatisfied, miserable and only after eating do we realise we have ‘over eaten’. How do we overcome this? Why do we feel this way? Can mindful eating help us eat less?
Mindful eating means paying close attention to eating and drinking. It means paying close attention to the colors, smells, textures, flavors, temperatures, and even the sounds that the food makes while being chewed. To do this well we have to move away from the desk. Put all the work away, switch your cell to silent, take a break for the meal, and listen to your body and totally and completely experience that meal. This is when you might realise that you do not actually like a certain aspect of the meal (maybe the bread was too nutty or the sandwich had too much mayonnaise), you might only eat half of the meal as you realised you were ‘full’ or you were actually thirsty instead of hungry. Try mindful drinking the next time you had something fizzy. Experience the bubbles in your mouth, stop after each sip to experience the ‘fizziness’ as the liquid slips down your throat. And also realise how quickly you stopped drinking and realised you had had enough without finishing a full can. Try mindful eating on a packet of chips. Take out only one chip, smell it (aromatic? not so good?), feel the texture of the chip on your finger tips (rough? smooth? oily?), take just one lick (salty? Sweet? like it?). Now take a small bite, how was it? Did you like it? what was the mouth feel like? Oily? Grainy? Going through a process like this can help you eliminate unhealthy foods from your diet, helping you to realise that those foods you once used to enjoy on the run are actually not that great!
Mindful eating also helps us realise when we eat emotionally and how it affects our mood. Mindfulness is awareness without criticism or judgement.When you eat mindfully and shut out the world you do not compare yourself to others, no judgement of yourself or others, just simply witnessing the many sensations and thoughts that come up as we eat.
How do we eat Mindfully?
– Eat like a gourmet: Eat as if you are at gourmet restaurant experiencing the ‘food art’ of a famous chef. Smell, tough and savour each bite.
– Eat more fibre: Eating more fibre helps you to stay fuller for longer which also helps the body regulate blood glucose levels and insulin release. In this way you are not tempted to binge eat or snack on unhealthy snacks.
– Switch off and Ban all handheld or other devices at your table: This will also give you a break from the world. No Facebooking/ tweeting/ instagraming or text messaging at the table!
– Put down your cutlery between bites: This will help you eat slower
– Give thanks: If its a family meal or if you are alone at the park bench, take a moment to say prayer or give thanks before eating. Remembering who made the food and the effort that went into it.
– Pack your lunchbox Mindfully: Preparing your lunch the night before can not only save you time in the morning but it will also give you a chance to prepare foods you would like to see in your box the next day. Include your favourite foods in low fat versions and always include a fruit and a healthy desert to end your meal. Packing a lunch box also saves you money and allows you to be in control of your health. Remember to give that delicious packed lunch the Justice it deserves by eating and enjoying every mouthful mindfully!
– Place healthy foods where you can see them: Keep a fresh fruit basket on your kitchen counter or on your desk. Keep unhealthy food items in the back of the fridge and try not to keep them in the house if possible. Stock your pantry with whole-wheat grains and pastas and canned beans make a quick and healthy supper.
What are the benefits of Mindful eating?
– Increased enjoyment of food. Go for quality not quantity. By choosing smaller amounts of the best food you can afford, you will not only enjoy it more, you’re far more likely to be satisfied without having to over eat.
– Improved digestion: you will notice you do not swallow mouthfuls of food without chewing. This will decrease heartburn and indigestion if that was a problem for you.
– Being satisfied with less: You will really savour and enjoy that one square of chocolate instead of feeling unsatisfied and craving for more. You will realise there is no need to deny yourself a treat when deserved.
– Reduced overeating: Mindful eating means you eat slower, you chew each bite well and you listen to your tummy. This helps you stop eating when you are full since your food and body gets your full attention.
I hope these tips and advice will help you eat better and with mindfulness. Start off with one meal a day as a mindful meal and work from there. Children are often the best ones to remind us to pray or ‘no taking while eating’ Mom! Mindful eating will not only benefit your body but will also help your family eat better and become more close knit as a family as we remove all external stimuli while eating!
Let mindful eating and mindfulness spill into there aspects of your life and realise the true blessings and wonder of this amazing world we live in!!I am definitely going to get started eating this way. Let me know how your ‘mindful eating’ journey is going by leaving tips or comments!