Recently I was thinking about the thing they used to say in the diet world- that we should chew our food 20-30 times per bite as a way to slow down and enjoy our food. Was it Weight Watchers that said that? What @$%!!! How is liquifying your food into a spittle enjoyment?
Fortunately, there are other ways to practice mindfulness when eating. This week on HealthBite I share a guided mindful eating practice and some of my tips on being fully grounded and present when we eat. This is not a matter of diet or weight loss, but a question of how we can infuse joy in an activity that we do at least 3 times a day. How do we make the act of nourishing ourselves joyful, rather than restrictive, mindless, and altogether devoid of enjoyment?
If you are interested in sitting through this practice with me, grab some berries and click here.
Here are some of the highlights:
1. Taste with your WHOLE mouth: you don’t need to chew 30 times to truly taste your food. Remember that we have tastebuds ALL OVER OUR MOUTH, over and under our tongue, lining the soft palate, at the back of the throat. Allow the food to come into contact with your whole mouth as a way to truly taste and SAVOR.
2. Begin with an Acknowledgement: This may come in the form of a prayer, it may be a gratitude practice or just a mere acknowledgment of where the food came from. Who picked it, washed it, packaged it, trucked it and prepared it for you to eat? How many hands or lands did it cross before it made it to your mouth? This acknowledgment to me is a true act of gratitude-both giving gratitude and receiving care.
3. Pause: One of the unnoticed benefits of a prayer or gratitude practice before we eat is the opportunity to pause and be present. When we take the time to pause, we give ourselves an opportunity to slow down be fully present with our food to acknowledge the sanctity of mealtime.
4. Acknowledge that meal time is sacred. We do this by sitting down to a meal, putting away technology and distractions and giving our meal the time and respect that it deserves. Food is sacred. And so are the people we chose to eat with. Acknowledge them by offering your undivided attention.
5. Have a closing ceremony– I remember when I went to Jewish day school, we began lunch with a prayer and we ended it with a prayer. Of course, as silly children we replaced the words with inappropriate ones and laughed and sometimes got detention but it did have a purpose, it signified the end of mealtime. Create your own end after which there is no picking, no cleaning off your children’s scraps no eating cold unwanted food that would otherwise have gone down the trash disposal.
6. Finally, honor your hunger. How often do we rush past our hunger, only to find ourselves overfull and over-stuffed. The choice not to eat past our hunger “just because it tastes good,” is not about restriction. It’s about staying with the part that is necessary, that is nourishing, that feels good before we get to the part that is too full, too much, too uncomfortable. It is about honoring our hunger.
I truly believe that the only way we can stop fighting with ourselves, with our food and with our bodies is by relating to our food and hunger in an intentional and mindful way.
Listen to this week’s podcast if you want to walk through a mindful eating practice together. I did it with my staff this week office and they said my voice is soothing. Do you agree?
Wishing you a happy and healthy week!