This post is part of “Spunky Simplicity: Less Is More“, a year-long consumption-busting collaboration with our friends at Simplicity Organizers, designed to give participants the tools they need to successfully unclutter their lives.
“Food reveals our connection with the earth. Each bite contains life of the sun and the earth. We can see and taste the whole universe in a piece of bread! Contemplating our food for just a few seconds before eating and eating with mindfulness, can bring us much happiness.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh
We’ve all done it. We eat mindlessly on the run, behind the wheel, or behind a screen. We scarf down what’s within reach without a thought of its origins or how it might nourish us. We barely slow down long enough to taste our food, let alone to savor and be grateful for it. We find that on our mile-long checklist of “things to do” carving out a time for a peaceful meal often gets knocked off.
Then, there are those of us who are emotional eaters, eating because we are sad, nervous, stressed, lonely, or afraid. You name the emotion and we’ve got an ice cream flavor “cure” for that. Many of us have spent a lifetime thinking of food as both our enemy and our rescuer. We long to make peace with those opposing views.
Enter a new to us, yet ancient, approach to consuming the foods that sustain us as it also reveals the sacred space possible in each and every bite: mindful eating.
Mindful eating involves paying purposeful attention to the sensations of eating such as taste, texture, color, aroma, and satiety. It also involves being focused on the experience of eating vs being distracted by our to-do list, our cell phones, and our too busy lives. It is sharing a meal with the people we love or a quiet meal alone as a form of meditation. It is understanding where our food comes from and the nourishment it provides.
As you begin to eat more mindfully, you will likely find that you:
- Consume less and are satisfied with less because you take the time to notice and experience each bite.
- Enjoy more fully the experience of eating.
- Consume better foods because you are more conscious of the quality of each bite and the effect foods have on your wellness and your moods.
- Have better digestion because you are slowing down, reducing stress, and taking the time to chew your food.
- Become more aware of hunger and satiety cues.
- As you cultivate mindful eating, you will become more aware of “enough” and eat/order/shop accordingly. Less food will be wasted.
So, what habits should you develop to become a more mindful eater? Well, as you will hear often from us in the next several months, “It’s simple but it’s not easy.” Practice is the only way. Here are some suggestions for getting started.
- When you are eating, only eat. Do not attempt to multitask with the exception of sharing the experience with those you love.
- Always eat at a table. This will eliminate your tendency to mindlessly graze. Even a snack will be etched into your consciousness if your rule is to sit down at a table to eat it.
- Practice gratitude for the abundance in front of you. Appreciate the appearance, the origin of the food, and the preparation.
- If you have prepared the food yourself be also mindful in its preparation. Think of it as a gift you give yourself and those you love rather than as a chore.
- Take it one bite at a time. Notice your sensations as you eat. Chew each bite thoroughly.
- Take the time to consider the interconnectedness between all living things, our planet and its peoples, as well as the impact our food choices have on each.
Practicing all or a few of these habits to become more mindful can greatly transform our relationship to the food we eat, the way we choose to eat it, while bringing to full light the many gifts this earth provides.
How might you make tonight’s dinner a little more sacred? We would love to hear about it!