Mindfulness is such a buzz word these days. It’s used sometimes as a throw away remark to solve just about every single problem we have! Whether you think it’s just a fad or if you are one of the people who believe in it or even if you are on the fence on this one, I can tell you that mindful eating works! In reality, I use the word mindful but you could just as easily replace it with joyful eating, or satisfying eating or delicious eating even!! The key to ‘mindful’ eating is that you experience eating in the here and now and with complete and utter guilt free enjoyment!
The Anti-Diet Lifestyle takes mindful eating to a whole new level and will train you to eat using not just five but six senses!! Don’t worry, there’s no spirituality involved if you don’t believe in it, you can just as easily call your sixth sense an instinct and there’s no doubt that instincts exist. You only have to look at our fight or flight responses or a reflex action to know that there are aspects of our human bodies and minds that we don’t fully understand or control. With this in mind, please keep an open mind as you read this blog because it will help you to not only enjoy your food but also to feel fuller and satisfied without a shred of guilt to be seen!
What are the six senses?
And then there’s the sixth sense, let’s call it intuition
And then there’s the sixth sense, let’s call it Intuition
How to eat mindfully
Set the scene
If you are new to this, I would suggest that the first thing you do is set the scene. If you are not new to this, set the scene!! This is because your surroundings play a big part in talking to your sub-conscious mind. If they are positive and beautiful you are more likely to have positive and beautiful results. The opposite speaks for itself, negative and ‘ugly’ results.
As a beginner, it will be best if you learn how to do it and make it a habit at home. That way, you have full control of your surroundings. If, however, you’re not able to for whatever reason, try a restaurant. The key here is that you are somewhere you can fully engage with your food without distraction from friends, your partner, your children etc. Circumstances will obviously dictate when and where but you will need to arrange a ‘date’ night with yourself on a regular basis until you are a veteran mindful eater!!
Here are some reasons for this
Beautiful surroundings are more likely to put you in a positive state of mind
If you are comfortable with your surroundings, you can concentrate 100% on the task ahead.
You do not need to worry about the judgement of others
You are giving this task utmost importance
Your surroundings will enhance the experience (once you are used to it, your surroundings will be less influential to the experience of eating mindfully)
If you are at home:
Set a table, if you don’t have a table, use a beautiful tray, the best that you can afford. Spend time arranging your table and tray for example:
Use a beautiful table cloth
Place appealing place-mats with care
Light a candle
Place a vase of flowers
Light an incense stick
Play soothing music that you love (not rock n’ roll!!)
Place a favourite ornament in the centre of the table
Use your best plates
Use your best cutlery
Use the fanciest glass you own for your choice of drink – this is not necessary but if you prefer to have a glass of water, juice whatever then do so
Place some positive affirmations beside you, a plaque or an inspiring picture will work great for this purpose
Dress up for the occasion – if you love dressing up
Dress down for the occasion – if you love cosy, comfortable clothes
Do NOT wear tight fitting clothes
Pick one or a selection of dishes you absolutely love – remember this is not about nutrition right now, this is about learning to eat mindfully
Ideally, cook everything yourself but if this is totally impractical, purchase the object or objects of your desire
If you are outside
At a restaurant, choose the table that appeals to you the most. Look for a window seat or further inside if there’s nice lighting or a candle or if it’s beside a beautiful picture. You will feel better straight away. It is more difficult this way, but if can be done.
Have a picnic!
If the weather is good enough, plan a picnic at the park!
Use the best cutlery you have
Use the best plates you have
Use the best glass you have
Set a beautiful table cloth on the ground
Pick a spot that’s visually appealing to you
Pick a spot that’s physically appealing to you, such as in the sun (if you like sun) or in the shade (if you prefer shade).
‘Trying and failing, the ups and downs. It’s like a heartbeat, without it, we would die’
Why does being mindful help when you are eating?
It will allow you to enjoy your food
It will keep you in the present moment
It will stop you feeling guilty
It will teach you how to eat again
It will teach you how to feel full – this is a major reason why we binge it. We stuff food down our faces so fast and furiously that we forget to wait for the full signal our body is dying to give. Once you are full, you will feel satisfied and you will not need to binge eat.
When you eat, do so WITHOUT guilt. If the feeling rises up, be prepared to expel it immediately, over and over again:
See – take the time to look at your food, notice its shapes and its colours
Hear – as you chew or bite, notice the sound it makes
Touch – pick up your food with your hands (where practical to do so). Notice its texture, it’s weight and it’s feel (is it smooth/rough, is it heavy/light etc)
Smell – Notice the smell/s. Try and identify each smell, let your mouth water
Taste – Really taste your food. Don’t rush it, experience it and experience it slowly. Try and identify each item of food by its taste alone
And then there’s the sixth sense, let’s call it Intuition – this is the best part!! Imagine the food making its way into your body, giving you energy, satisfying your hunger, extracting any nutrients.
Every now and then (you might like to time it to begin with, say every 5/10 minutes) – Stop and think about how your body feels. The reason for this is you are teaching your mind to engage with your body (like it did effortlessly when you were a child) so that you can pick up the ‘full and satisfied’ signal. Do not worry, at first you may find that you binge as you have always done. With time, persistence and actual application of this process, you will begin to ‘find your full’. When this happened to me, I was euphoric, I couldn’t believe what just happened because for years I was always either starving or stuffed to the point of feeling sick!
Repeat . . . Repeat . . . Repeat!!!
Do this exercise often until it becomes second nature! Without knowing it, you will find that you have changed!!
Written by Sherry Taylor
Author of The Anti-Diet Lifestyle