Your Guide To Eating Mindfully

It’s been five minutes since I sat down with a heap of scrumptious stir fry. Now as I look down at my bone dry plate I can’t help but ask what happened? Do I even remember the tangy sauce, or the brilliant green of the broccoli? Was I even alive?! Alive in the fact that breathing, chewing, and most obviously thinking was occurring(!), but awareness of the experience was the no show to that party. What I realized is that I can RSVP to life’s experiences until I’m blue in the face, but it’s actually showing up that takes some discipline and courage. In this case eating, nourishing my rare and precious human form, is the grandiose event and all I have to do is dress to the 9, show up and soak in the surroundings.

So I wonder…Why has food become the enemy? It’s the obstacle to you losing weight, meeting the perfect man, being happy in your own skin, etc, etc. We treat eating as a means to an end. Must eat to fulfill cravings (stemming from the mind not the stomach!), fuel my workout, fill the void in my life…it’s the emotional and ruminating mind with no off switch. In reality, eating is eating and should be treated as such. It’s a few moments in life that, like every other moment, should be experienced to the fullest through unabated awareness.

Awareness not only allows you to relish every crumb of apple pie, but taps you into the body. Think of awareness as a fine tuned listening that tells you that the body is full and content…this or that food doesn’t agree with or feel good…and most significantly, when to stop eating! When you start listening all sorts of amazing realizations surface. Perhaps you reach for the chips because you are just downright bored. The instant you become aware is the moment you can chose to take a different action. You have the power now.

Just imagine indulging in your fave devilish dessert and having the willpower to take one bite and be satisfied. In the words of Aladdin “it’s a whole new world…” Disney quotes aside, why will mindfulness work? Because YOU, not your thoughts/emotions, will be aware that the stomach is not hungry and that the mind is playing tricks on you…only wanting more and more.

You are above the mind and emotions. It just takes practicing the control and discipline that is mindfulness. Enough chit chat already. Let’s get started on revamping the way you experience food. Here’s your step by step guide to eating with utmost awareness.

1.) Prep: Staring wide eyed at the butcher block you’ve got all your ingredients laid out. Perhaps you have a recipe or maybe you’re like me and just like to see what you can concoct with the random leftovers in the cupboard. Either way, here in lies the start to the glorious start of a mindful meal. Draw your focus to the task at hand. Maybe set some fun music in the background first! Gotta set the mood. Really see the ingredients. As you cut each veggie think quality. Make each movement count. Be aware of the feeling of the knife in your hand. The weight of the handle, the slide of the blade. See the vibrant colors of the ingredients. Smell the aromatic herbs, and feel the smooth, fragile leaves.
2.) Atmosphere: As the fabulous dish is cooking or whenever you have the time, create the atmosphere. Set the table (yes I know this is new to most TV watching eaters, like my old self!), put on some music to fit the mood or theme and invite people over if you wish. In an effort to keep the energy positive around eating, extend the invite to those who make you laugh and smile. Leave the dramatic, problem ridden folks for another moment. Food is meant to be enjoyed, not swallowed with a dose of jealousy, resentment and bitterness that saturates the cloud above some peoples heads. Turn off all distractions like the TV, phone, and computer. Avoid eating while standing, walking, driving (!) or stressed.

3.) Portion: By now the timer has jolted you out of all the fun you were having with your guests, and it’s time to eat! Dun, dun, dun.. the anxiety creeps in…”how much should I fork onto my plate?” Start with a portion half the size of what you would normally consume. You can always go back for more if you are still hungry, but you’ll be surprise how little you need to feel satisfied. Every day and meal is different depending on your activity and current energy levels. You’ll know the right portion when you feel it.

4.) Clarity: Before you reach for the utensils take a quiet moment to reflect on the beautiful bounty of food in front of you. A mindful alternative/piggy back to saying grace. Draw your attention to your breath. Take three quiet breaths as you use all your senses to absorb the scene before you. Look around and see the friendly faces, the bright colorful meal. Let the thoughts trickle to a stop and just be in the moment.

5.) Eating: By this time you might be ready to chew off your own hand in anticipation, but resist the urge to dive into your plate and start shoveling. Mindfulness is a discipline! You are not going to die if you don’t get food into your mouth this instant…that is your desires (the mind) working on overdrive. Slow down. Cut small bites. Chew each bite with care and awareness. See the food before it hits the taste buds, and savor the chewing time. Taste and feel the texture of the food. Awaken all the senses and absorb as much as you can.

6.) The Body: After every few bites check in with your stomach and rest of the body. Is the body feeling satisfied yet? This is different then the thoughts/emotions being satisfied. The body will be content long before the mind. Hence why eating slowly and consciously is key! You can also condition yourself. For example, after a few bites I will put the fork down, look around, and allow my senses to draw me back to the present moment. Back to the now, back to the body, back to a clear mind where I am observing what my thoughts are doing. Be an expert observer. That is mindfulness! Listening is only half of the work though. Let’s say the body is content and happy and you know this thanks to your new found awareness, but then you don’t act on that information. Action must follow listening. It’s simple. Cut and dry. Listen and do what feels right in that moment.


Final Thoughts: “I have a dream…” that one day we will no longer be slaves to our cravings. That we will be able to laugh at the pathetic attempts of our brain to trick us into overindulging. That we will have control over our lives because we have tapped into our true souls and awareness that resides above the mind. The truth is that practicing mindfulness will offer you the chance to enjoy food, the body, and the now. Tap into the awareness and watch yourself transform.
You’ll soon see that you don’t need all those calories. You’ll start to make wiser choices about the quality of food you consume because you’ll truly know what the best tastes like. The body will start to crave the quality. You’ll loose weight because you won’t be eating excess. You’ll save money, save resources, save the planet! You’ll have more energy, be content, and satisfied…ultimately all round happy! All this fabulousness from just being aware of yourself? Yes. That’s how much power you have.
Cheers to you and starting the revolution!