As much as we hate to admit it, health is a big deal in our lives. If not trying to craft a perfect beach body I think that most of us want to feel healthy. Instrumental to that is eating. Our food choices directly effect how we look and feel in a big way and, you may have guessed it, we can be helped in our food-ing by mindfulness.
The essence of mindfulness is paying attention. Many of us will likely agree that one of the places that we need to pay attention is our meal times. Food selections are one part of the equation and I imagine we all do a decent job at that. Even if we don't make "good" food choices on the regular I'm sure that most of us at least recognize that we don't eat healthy.
While mindful food selection is incredibly important, and worthy of a completely different blog post dedicated to it, I will be focusing on method rather than substance here. What does that mean? Well, rather than making healthy food choices lets work with the food that we already eat to try and pay attention to how we eat it. Here are a couple of things that have worked for me.
Many of you have probably already heard this one, which is good because it is a great tip. We have pretty darn big servings in this country and eat far more than we should as a result. Combine that with the fact that it takes your stomach a while to realize that it is full and you're very likely to over eat. So, try and stretch your food out over the course of maybe half an hour. Take a couple bites, and put the food down for just a bit. If you have to watch the clock and wait a couple of minutes between bites then that works perfectly. I think odds are you will be surprised by how little food you have before you are actually satisfactorily full.
Essence of mindfulness right here, that is only doing one thing. When you eat, don't do anything else. Also, when you are doing something don't have food around. I used to have this terrible munching tendency where I would get bored and eat. It wasn't really even a conscious thing. I would be sitting there with some trail mix on my desk and I would just scarf it down. Now, trail mix isn't too bad for you but if you polish off a full eight serving bag of it that's when things get a little unhealthy. Just keep the food out of arms length and you won't idly eat it.
Also, if you are sitting down to a meal try to only eat that meal. I mentioned our already big portions above and they come into play here too. The feeling of fullness can be a subtle thing, one that we have to pay attention to in order to really feel it. If we're caught up in a TV program or something then our attention is at best split and we likely won't notice when we are getting full. Then, the only way that we know if our meal is done is if we over eat or if we clean our plate of our too large portion.
Solution? Turn off the distraction and pay attention to the experience of eating. If you choose tasty foods this will likely be just as pleasant of an experience as if you coupled it with entertainment. May take a bit of adjusting, but give it a try. Eat with friends a lot? Maybe share some of your food and talk about it. Nothing says you have to be alone to eat mindfully.
The free dictionary defines mindfulness as follows: (n.) the trait of staying aware of (paying close attention to) your responsibilities
What are some of our responsibilities in life? We all have basic need in life. Maslow's hierarchy of needs dictates that we need to fulfill five things in sequence. We must satisfy our physiological needs to live such as food, water and breath. Then we must satisfy a need for safety from the manifest threats of this world. From there we crave the attention and company of friends and significant others, and from here we seek things that bolster our self esteem and seek to gain not just the attention of but also the respect of others.Finally we look to bring some sort of deeper fulfillment in our lives, thinking of our legacy through creating things and solving problems.
As I glance over this list I see that pretty much all of them are important factors that all play into my own quality of life. Moreover these are all things to pay attention to, or I should say be mindful of. Certainty we should be aware of our need to eat and satisfy it or we will starve. It is equally important that we understand the condition of our relationships with friends, family, and significant others and give them proper maintenance or they will suffer. If we don't focus on our work we won't get that promotion. If we don't pay attention in class, our grades will suffer.
There is simple cause and effect that if we are not mindful of somethings, that is being aware of its condition and working to better its condition, then it will suffer. I'm sure that we are all pretty good at keeping ourselves fed, and that we all have a roof over our heads, for the most part. These things are just a part of our condition nowadays, but I would challenge you to determine how mindful of things you truly are, and seek to pay more attention to the things you regularly pass over.
Food for thought;
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a way of being. It is a way of connecting with your life. It is being aware of the present moment. Being in a closer relation to what’s going on right now. It doesn’t matter what you are paying attention to, but it should be enjoyable, not an effort. Mindfulness is a powerful silence, outside and in, that nourishes us and heals us. The more you concentrate or meditate on something, the more beauty it will have.
Think back to when you were a kid, if you can’t do that, think of a kid you know or have seen on television. Kids live their lives in the present moment, without judgment. They don’t worry about the future or the past; they live for what is going on right now.
Greater mindfulness = Greater happiness, love, wisdom, emotional balance, peace of mind, and relationships.