Do you find yourself craving warm, chewy, gooey chocolate chip cookies? Do you find yourself gorging your fourth cookie ten minutes later? Even if cookies are not your favorite, there is at least one food out there that you want to indulge on without a second thought. But— have you ever stopped to think about how these foods you love make you feel? Do you even know what ingredients are is in in them or where they came from? Mindful eating not only takes those questions into consideration, but it expands on questions like, how does it feel in your mouth; or what does it smell like or look like? Asking simple questions like these has been found to be extremely effective in changing eating habits, feeling better about the self, and bettering our relationship with food.
By participating in mindful eating, we become more aware of what is put into our bodies for fuel, and there are a lot of ways to be mindful before, during, and after a meal or snack. Mindful eating starts in the kitchen. Hearing the pan sizzle, smelling the savory aromas, seeing the changing colors, and feeling the heat wakes up the senses that lead to a feeling of joy. Once on the plate, a sense of accomplishment follows— a combination of simple ingredients created an edible masterpiece!
This mindful journey does not end here; before “digging in,” take the time to see what you have created to notice its beauty, and ask yourself where these ingredients came from. Be thankful for the men and women who grew and harvested these foods, and for the Earth that conceived these gifts of life.
Now for the good part: as we begin to savor this dish, take pauses and chew slowly. Feel the different textures in the mouth along with the flavors— Chewy, crunchy, soft, smooth, velvety; earthy, sweet, spicy, salty, savory. Don’t be ashamed of taking a sniff before taking a bite for the full effect (I do this and get teased on, but I don’t care!). Think about how eating in this way makes your body feel. Does your body accept it graciously, or is it upset about one of the foods? (You may be intolerant to something if that is the case!) As your plate empties, feel the difference in satiety— are you too full for another bite, or are you in need of a little more? This tactic helps in preventing over-eating. When your stomach tells you “No more!”, it’s time to stop. Even if there is food on the plate, it is okay to leave a little; this helps you know how much food your body needs.
Once satisfied, pause once more to notice the energy gained from eating. Feel the fuel, and take the time to be grateful of yourself, the farmers, Earth, and any other person or thing that went into the making of your meal— there are so many to thank!
Following this mindful eating ritual for a few of your meals during the week is enough to improve your relationship with food. Choices in foods may change once noticing who handles your food, causing you to choose wisely. Making your own food may become enjoyable, and you’ll choose to cook at home more often. Even if there isn’t a kitchen to make food, appreciating what you serve yourself and experimenting with different textures and flavors of foods is enough to change the way you see food for the better.
Here at Georgia Southern, we have a plethora of healthy food choices for you to try. And if during a mindful eating experience you find yourself intolerant to certain foods, there is a special dietary needs section at Dining Commons called No Whey! you can try.
Next time you’re about to eat, be mindful and feel the difference— you may find it very enjoyable! And as always, don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more glorious wellness tips and University Wellness Program updates!