The ever-increasing demand for speed is catching us out.
We struggle to process the constant flow of data and global, bite-sized news…never mind whether fake or not. Exercise regimes are getting ever shorter but faster, and even holidays have become a series of snapshots designed to cram in venues and experiences. Rome in a day, anyone?
The same applies to meals. Think about the term ‘fast’ food. When you are in a fast food restaurant, you are meant to eat fast food fast. You are not there to take time over your food but get on with it and make room for the next customer. Mindless eating allows no time for reflection, just like a Formula 1 racing pit-stop, where experience is reduced to the mechanical process of re-fuelling ourselves quickly.
Most fast food is also soft food, easy to swallow quickly, and so encourages us to be lazy about chewing habits. As a result, we are prone to overeating and bolting down our food without a thought as to whether we have chewed properly or our stomach has had time to produce enough gastric juice to process the meal.
Think of all the different circumstances and contexts in which you eat. When exactly are you consuming mindlessly and carelessly – rushing, comfort eating or eating out of plain boredom? How often do you feel too tired to cook properly and eat on-the-go, whilst standing in the kitchen or walking down the street…
Mindfulness is a brilliant tool that shows us how to slow down, re-focus and pay attention. Done consistently, on a daily basis, it’s surprising how quickly feelings of ‘overwhelm’ melt away.
The Center for Mindful Eating has created basic principles intended to guide people who are interested in mindful eating:
Principles of Mindfulness:
- Mindfulness is deliberately paying attention, non-judgmentally, in the present moment.
- Mindfulness encompasses both internal processes and external environments.
- Mindfulness is being aware of your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations in the present moment.
- With practice, mindfulness cultivates the possibility of freeing yourself of reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting.
- Mindfulness promotes balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is.
Mindful Eating is:
- Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom.
- Using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body.
- Acknowledging responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral) without judgment.
- Becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating.
Someone Who Eats Mindfully:
- Acknowledges that there is no right or wrong way to eat but varying degrees of awareness surrounding the experience of food.
- Accepts that their eating experiences are unique.
- Is an individual who by choice, directs their attention to eating on a moment-by-moment basis.
- Gains awareness of how they can make choices that support health and well being.
- Becomes aware of the interconnection of earth, living beings, and cultural practices and the impact of their food choices on those systems.