Mindful eating is a thing, and it’s not surprising considering how many people eat on the run, in front of the computer or TV, or skip a meal entirely. Not focusing on eating can lead to indigestion, overeating, and even emotional eating.
With food being such a social activity, we often spend our energy on the social part of eating with friends and family, rather than on eating itself. When we are focused on talking, laughing, and catching up, we often forget to thoroughly chew our food, which can lead to indigestion. We can overeat as we are not mindful of internal signals of satisfaction. Sometimes we also take an extra serving of this or that to be polite or so our hosts (be it grandma, Aunt Ruth, or our friends) are happy.
3 Tips for Mindful Eating
① What We Eat
What we eat affects our physical and emotional states of being. Being mindful of what we put into our mouth, rather than eating on autopilot, helps us naturally follow a right diet.
Oftentimes what we love is also what we are sensitive or even allergic to. That’s why eating more simply, and more whole and freshly prepared foods can make a huge difference. Some foods that we would call healthy are high in histamines and this can be a hidden source of sensitivity for some people.
Having a primarily plant based and non-dairy diet can improve many people’s health in general.
Going meat-free, especially red meat and processed meat, is recommended for good heart health. Can’t go cold-turkey? Start with Meat-Free Mondays. Meat Free Monday is a non-profit movement launched in 2009 by Paul, Mary, and Stella McCartney to raise awareness of the health benefits, environmental conservationism, and climate change of eating less meat. Looking for ideas? Check out their Meat Free recipes.
“When I eat mindlessly, I have more calories and less pleasure. When I eat mindfully, I have more pleasure with fewer calories…. when you pay attention to what you’re eating, you notice how different foods affect you, for better and for worse. More-healthful foods make you feel good–light, clear, energetic. Less-healthful foods make you feel bad–heavy, dull, sluggish. Then it comes out of your own experience, not because some doctor or book or friend told you.” – Dr Ornish
② How We Eat
Mindful eating is easier when we are alone, and silent. At least in the beginning. Being mindful with lots of people is certainly a good way to deepen your practice. If you routinely skip conversations at meal times, let others know and observe your own silence.
When you do eat with others, be extra mindful of what and how you are eating. Slow down. Take smaller bites. Put down your cutlery while you are eating. To help with digestion, which starts in the mouth, be sure to chew, chew, chew.
Here are some good habits for mindful eating
- Eat fruit on its own on an empty stomach. Consume fruit an hour before your meal or two hours after. Some fruits, such as melons, should be eaten alone, according to Anthony William the Medical Medium.
- Eat protein with non-starchy vegetables. Substitute potatoes with spinach or broccoli. Non-starchy veggies digest well in both acidic and alkaline environments.
- Have multiple small meals throughout the day.
- Avoid eating after 8pm; at least skip the tropical fruits and the heavy stuff.
- Hydrate throughout the day. Consume more water or eat more fruit if you are drinking caffeinated drinks.
- Consider intermittent fasting.
According to Yogic Treatments and Natural Remedies, “water is medicine for all diseases” and while a healthy person can consume three or four seers of water a day, a sick person 4 or 5 and even more for anyone with skin disease. It is best to drink with a little lemon and salt in the day, rather than gulp a lot at once. (A seer is a traditional unit of mass. In India, it was defined as 1.25kg with many local variants.)
③ How to Boost our Digestion
Our liver can take a toll, from (non-healthy) fatty foods and alcohol. Liver stagnation is a common ailment in our modern lifestyle. Support your liver with Gaia Liver Health and emotional intelligence. Our organs affect our emotions and vice versa and the liver is associated with anger. Find out how to harmonize your liver with emotional balance. Be sure not to eat when you are stressed, and definitely not when you are angry! Be mindful of how you are feeling when you eat.
You can boost your digestion with enzymes like Enzymedica’s Digest Gold + Probiotics, Advanced Digestive Enzymes. Opt for soup or warm tea with a meal over cold drinks. For the holidays, when travelling or anytime you are under additional stress, it is best to go for simple meals to make complete digestion easier.
Managing stress is another great way to help support our digestion. Other tips? Better posture (activate your core) and move.
We also love using Jin Shin Jyutsu. Simply place your hands over the bottom of your ribs and observe your breath. You can also hold your thumbs. Alternatively hold all your fingers for overall balance (and jet lag too!)
At the end of the day, the most important thing is to enjoy the food and the company. Don’t stress if you have that pie or an extra helping. Incorporate these tips for mindful eating over time. Always eating with a calm mind and happy heart is the best way to boost your digestion, emotional wellbeing, and physical health.