Mindfulness…One Bite At A Time

Recently I participated in an online mindful eating mentoring group with fellow colleagues to fine tune our teaching skills and methodologies in order to better help others. Unexpected side benefits such as weight loss, jaw alignment, and health improvements occurred among us as a result of digging deep into the work. A beautiful example of the adage – to help oneself, look to helping another.

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Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, on one’s thoughts, feelings and sensations without judgement. It is particularly helpful when used as a therapeutic technique.

Many people strive to achieve this state through formal means such as yoga, Feldenkrais, meditation and a variety of intuitive trainings. Others tap into the mindful state when they are gardening, walking or running. For myself, achieving this state while playing tennis or golf may take me many lifetimes to achieve. Sigh.

Practicing mindful eating creates wonderful lifelong benefits such as weight loss, better health, more enjoyment and pleasure, feelings of fullness and satiety, and ultimately more self-compassion – How does it get any better than that?

Here are five simple tips as a starter pack:

  1. Put down your food or fork after every single bite.
    Habits of eating actually begin with the reach of the hand and have nothing to do with hunger. Watch yourself go into auto pilot with your hands. If necessary, sit on your hands between bites in order to convince your brain you really would like to change this habit.
  2. WAIT!
    As you bring the tiny morsel of food to your lips pause to smell it, really look at it, and anticipate the experience of it. If it’s something especially tasty like chocolate you can make a game of how long you can wait for it. How long is a nanosecond again?
  3. Prolong the Bite – food foreplay
    Hold the food on your tongue for as long as you can, move it gently and slowly to different parts of your mouth and notice all the sensations – taste, temperature, texture, moisture…
  4. Chew verrrrrry slowwwly.
    This has many benefits for the digestive system, the taste of your food, and your weight. Have you ever wolfed down your food so fast you don’t even taste it? When you eat fast you do not give your brain a chance to tell you when you are full! Hello? How did these hips get here?
  5.  Concentrate on the Un-bite – the letting go stage.
    Biting and chomping are aggressive actions – necessary when you are being chased or have to eat and run. Time to choose differently.

Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy Your Food and everything about the experience of eating. Otherwise what is the point? A fun way to try these steps is with a friend so you can give each other feedback. Allow at least an hour to eat a meal together. You will reach your fullness sensation long before the time is up and well before your plate is empty. If you are thinking – but my mother said it was a sin to waste food and I have to eat everything on my plate or I don’t get dessert! 🙂 Get over it.
Cathy Lidster, GCFP, ABF, ACN, is a local and international health practitioner and teacher. For more info on Mindful Eating webinars or to challenge her in tennis or golf, call 250-819-9041 or email: cathylidster@gmail.com.