Do you remember the last meal you had?
Think about it. Were you in a rush when you ate it? Probably. Did you take in the meal's aroma? Eh. Did you take the time to savor it? Ain't nobody got time for that. Not anymore, at least.
You are not alone. A lot of us probably ate something in the last few hours and can't even remember everything we ate.
According to a 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American spends two-and-a-half hours a day eating and more than half the time, we are also doing something else. We browse social media, text, read work emails, or watch television. This mindless eating makes us unaware of what we are eating.
So, how exactly do we eat mindfully?
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. In essence, mindful eating means being fully attentive to your food—as you buy, prepare, serve and consume it. Regardless of your eating goals, mindfulness can help introduce a healthy relationship between you and the food that nourished your body.
Here are 8 steps to mindful eating:
- Begin with a shopping list. Make a list and stick to it, avoiding those hard to resist impulses at the grocery store. Try to avoid the center aisle and fill your cart with items from the produce section.
- Come to the table with an appetite, but not ravenous. Health snacking between meals will prevent that ravenous feeling at dinner time.
- Start with a small portion. Limit the size of your plate to 9 inches or less. The bigger the plate is, the more food you will want to stack on it.
- Appreciate your food. Pause for a minute or two before you begin eating. Silently express your gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy delicious food and the companions you're enjoying it with.
- Bring all your senses to the meal. When you're cooking, serving, and eating your food, be attentive to color, texture, and aroma.
- Take small bites. When your mouth isn’t full, it is easier to taste all your food completely.
- Chew thoroughly. Chew each mouthful 20-40 times depending on the type of food. Chew until you taste all the essence of the food.
- Eat slowly. If you follow step 7, you won’t bolt your food down. Take the time to enjoy every bite and pause in between putting the fork down.
Diana Rosito is a wellness coach at the Y Healthy Living Center at Baptist Medical Center North.