Mindful eating - big buzzwords in todays world. But what does it actually mean?
The dictionary defines MINDFUL as:
Being conscious or aware of something.
So... being conscious or aware of your eating.. now what does THAT mean? Surely when we eat we are aware that we’re doing it?
Not quite! Who likes to grab some food and pop in front of the TV? Or watch something on your computer? Or read a book?
I know I do. Take my food, open my phone and go on facebook, instagram, YouTube...
When we add these “trigger behaviors”, we take our bodies focus away from digesting and onto whatever we are looking at/reading. This distraction may cause us to chew too few times, take massive bites of food, and overeating.
We all know about the fight and flight (sympathetic nervous) system in our bodies, but did you know that this has an opposite? It’s called the rest and digest (parasypathetic nervous) system. When we are in fight and flight, our body is focusing its energy and blood flow to our extremeties so we have optimal use of our body to get away from the “lion” situation. This means blood flow and energy aren’t aiming at digestion. The optimal state to be in when eating is the rest and digest system, because it is geared for.... DIGESTION. Duh. It’s in the name. So it’s is always better to switch your body into a rest and digest activation before eating! My Chinese Medicine lecturer used to tell us to rather skip a meal if you are upset, angry or anxious because your body will not digest the food properly and there will be improper Qi production.
Often indigestion, constipation, IBS, weight loss, nutrient deficiencies can be aided by mindful eating! Of course, these are more complex to treat than simply eating mindfully but mindful eating is easy, free and can be done daily! So it is definitely a start.
Next time you’re sitting in front of your plate of food, do this mindful eating meditation:
Take a deep breath in and exhale.
Look at your food and bring your attention to your surrounding - who you are sitting with, the sounds you hear, the smells you smell.
Look at your plate and notice the different colours of your meal, the aroma of your meal (if you are particularly hungry, this part is difficult but beneficial! Be patient)
Adjust your posture so you’re sitting upright and (if appropriate), take your food and smell it. This part might be tricky in restaurants, but you do you!
You can give thanks for your meal, or you can even just express gratitude (I am grateful to be sitting for a meal with my cousin/I am grateful to have such an awesome meal to eat/whatever you want!)
Now, its time to eat. Take another deep breath in, make sure you are sitting upright and enjoy your meal. Ensuring you chew your food properly!
There’s no point in having the best treatment, the best doctor, the fanciest supplements, if you don’t start with the basics of using your body for healing! Sometimes we need help to find what it means for us to use our body as an aid to treatment. Lifestyle modification is a big part of my practice and no treatment plan of mine is complete without it!
If you suffer from gut-related issue, naturopathy can help you and your body heal itself! Contact me for a personalized treatment plan, tailor made to suit you - email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep smiling! Yours in health, Dr Shavit
~ Love Health & Wellness ~