Do you remember what food you ate three days ago? Did you even take the time to savor it, or did you eat it as quickly as possible? How did it affect your body and mind once you ate it?
Food is essential to sustaining every inch of our being. The truth is, many people don’t understand the importance of the food they eat. Maybe we have never been cognizant of our eating habits or maybe we just don’t care. Maybe we know, but we look the other way in order to eat what we crave at that moment. Eating is about more than filling your stomach. How we eat and what the food does to our bodies is a huge part of eating. Food has the ability to alter our physical appearance, mood, and energy level.
Mindful eating is an ancient mindfulness practice that has the ability to resolve our love-hate relationship with food. It emphasizes complete engagement and awareness while eating in order to establish body, mind, and spirit balance. In other words, it’s a holistic form of eating.
Hunger is usually thought to be one sided. When you’re hungry, your stomach is empty and your mind tells to you eat food; or so you think. The process of mindful eating breaks down hunger into 7 categories.
- Eye Hunger – Eye hunger is the hunger we experience from seeing something delicious.
- Nose Hunger – Nose hunger is the smell we sense from a sweet aroma of food.
- Mouth Hunger – Your mouth has its own desire for pleasurable sensations.
- Stomach Hunger – A crushing feeling that your stomach is about to eat itself.
- Cellular Hunger – Your body is deprived of food, so much that you can’t seem to work your limbs the way you want to.
- Mind Hunger – Mind hunger is all based upon thoughts. “I should eat more eggs because they have a lot of protein” or “I deserve this ice cream cone because I’ve been working all day”
- Heart Hunger – Eating foods that you have an emotional attachment to. Maybe your parents used to make french toast, bacon, eggs, and biscuits and gravy every Sunday morning, so you do now as well.
There’s a constant battle between wants and needs. You may need to eat some carrots, but you really want the leftover cake that’s sitting on the counter. How do you keep yourself from making all the wrong decisions? In order to help, mindful eating has an exercise called Eating a Raisin to help realize that carrots can be equally as satisfying as cake. It really depends on how you eat it. These steps can be taken with any kind of food, not just a raisin.
- Holding – Hold your raisin. Examine it within your hands; rub it between your fingers.
- Seeing – Look at your raisin. Take time to really observe the raisin. What are the features of this food? Focus on the color and every wrinkle.
- Touching – Touch your raisin. Explore the texture.
- Smelling – Smell the raisin. Hold it right under your nose, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Notice how your stomach and mouth react to the smell.
- Placing– Put the raisin in your mouth. Notice how easily your body knows where to put food. Before chewing, notice the sensations in your mouth. How badly do you want to chew and swallow the food.
- Tasting – Taste the raisin. Chew the raisin slowly and pay attention where you chew it and how it tastes.
- Swallowing – Swallow the raisin. Don’t swallow on your first instinct to do so. Take a few more moments to get all of the taste out of the raisin.
- Following – How do you feel now that you have finally eaten the raisin? Are you satisfied with the raisin?
Eating healthfully isn’t always feasible on a college budget, but learning mindfulness has made me realize how important it is to eat as healthy as possible. I’ve used the process to cut unnecessary consumption habits like drinking soda and eating hot fries. Little by little I decrease processed foods and replace them with local and organic fruits and veggies. Although the change seems small, over time it has really made a difference in my lifestyle and the way my body feels.
It doesn’t matter if you are practicing mindful eating to lose weight, become healthier, or support sustainable practices. Simple steps can guide anyone to realizing the power of food and the power they have to choose the better choice. So, what are you going to eat for your next meal?
-Posted by Delaney