: the quality or state of being mindful
: the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; also : such a state of awareness
Mindfulness, which we’ve discussed before, is a huge part of the yogi lifestyle. It really should be a part of every lifestyle but often we get caught up in our thoughts and before you know it life gets away from us. To bring yourself back simply direct your attention to your breath and realize that you are in this moment, nowhere else. This is especially important when we eat.
Now some of you might think, “Mindfulness while eating? What for?” Well, here are a couple of reasons. We are pretty disconnected from our food. Not only are we completely unaware of the places our food comes from most of the time but we often aren’t even certain of what we’re putting into our bodies. Processed foods now come with an ingredient list longer than the lines at Cedar Point amusement park. We are unfamiliar with the additives and our bodies don’t even know how to digest them. Most of our eating is done while multitasking. We work and eat, talk and eat, text and eat and sometimes drive and eat. Eating is no longer something sacred. We don’t eat to live, we live to eat. The act of eating has become so programmed into our subconscious mind that we do it without thinking. So let's try to reprogram.
Take a look at what’s in your cupboards. We get into habits of buying the same ol’ same ol’ and that can get us into trouble. What we thought was good for us yesterday might not be so for us today. We also are swayed by beautiful advertisements of “healthy” “sugar free” or “low fat” food that is actually detrimental to our health. Perhaps you can begin to be mindful of what you’re feeding your body. Try making a shift to a more sustainable diet of vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains. The closer to nature the better. When you eat healthier food you crave healthier food. And you don’t have to do it all at once. Little steps work perfectly.
Take the time to eat. A 2007 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that sitting down to eat can help you consume less food and fewer calories and can also help you make healthier food choices. Think about it. If we’re taking the time to sit down and eat we’re probably going to grab something a little more nourishing and a little less “on the go.” Make the time to eat, and only eat. I know that it can be a pretty difficult endeavor to eat without doing anything else, especially because so many people now a days have their phones, kindles or other technological devices to keep them company. But maybe you can try eating without distraction for 5 minutes of your lunchtime. Maybe only 3. Three minutes is better than none. Mindfulness steadily increases with practice.
Touch, taste, smell, and see. It’s so easy to shove food into our mouths, chew and swallow before we even break it down into sensible pieces. When’s the last time you actually looked at the food you were eating? I’m not talking about glancing down and thinking how good that tofurkey burger looks next to those sweet potato fries. I’m talking about recognizing color and texture and shape. How about thinking of all the things that happened to get that food to your plate? Planting, growing, and harvesting. Packaging, transporting and selling. So many people and places were involved in getting that delicious food to you. Maybe take a moment to feel gratitude in your heart. Did you taste the last bite that went down? Did you smell your food? Use your senses. Indulge in the goodness that you are so blessed to give your body.
By following these 3 easy steps you can begin to cultivate mindfulness not only while you eat but also throughout your entire day. Love your food. Love yourself. Love your life!