A Mindful Approach to Eating: Week 2
The Retreat at Ponte Vedra Beach is committed to helping individuals and families develop the tools for living every day more satisfied. We know that happiness is connected to finding a rhythm to life that makes sense and is sustainable.
As we have come to associate what we eat with who we are, we have become more dissociated from how we are eating and the actual food by which we are nourished. It’s easy to understand how this could have happened when we think about how quickly food went from being scarce to being in overabundance. It’s pretty simple to fill a plate with calorie-dense foods for most Americans today, but this was not something most of our great grandparents could say.
As a nation, we simply have not had time to adapt our relationship with food as our identity has shifted. Today, in a world where we can grow or import anything from anywhere (at least for the time being), it seems that what we are missing out on the practice of thinking about how we are feeding our appetites.
So, let’s step back and take a look at process rather than content.
This is mindful eating.
Start to think about how you eat.
Take a moment to note what comes to mind when you ask yourself this question:
“How do I eat?”
Common answers are:
“Whenever I can”
“On the go”
“Whatever’s in the lunch line”
“While watching TV”
It’s likely that some of the above answers might resonate with you, these factors have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing and are key to the success of whatever approach to eating you take or strategy you have for nourishing your body.
Mindful eating, in its simplest form, is turning some (or all) of your attention to the meal at hand with the goal of fully understanding and engaging in the experience.
Core Ideas of Mindful Eating:
- Let your body rather than your emotions guide your eating
- Stay aware of your sensory experiences while eating
- Share the experience with others
- Choose nutritionally rich and sustainable foods
- Focus on eating only while you are actually eating
- Carve out specific times for meals.
Try implementing this tip this week:
–Make mealtime a sensory experience.
Take time to really chew your food, breaking it down to a consistency where the flavor comes through. This is also great for digestion!
Food that is appealing to the eye and smells appetizing sets the tone for a fulfilling meal. The texture, temperature, combinations of flavors are pieces of information that help you feel more satisfied with the food you are eating.
The more senses used to take in the meal, the more meaningful it will be. We are less likely to eat too much and we are more likely to make wise choices.
Share your meal with someone, someone you like, if possible.
Good conversation, stimulating ideas, shared enjoyment makes food more memorable and meets your need for sustenance in ways that can’t come for food. Humans need connection: it fills us with positive emotions. Isolations is much more likely to lead to overeating.
Theresa Randazzo-Burton, MD
Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist