Here’s a challenge for you: eat while doing nothing else.
I took on this simple task during a few lunch breaks last week and discovered it’s deceptively tricky.
While trying to clear my mind of distracting thoughts and truly savour the textures and flavours of my chipotle chicken salad, I kept wondering what I was missing on my social media feed. Surely the latest antics of Donald Trump were more intriguing than my spinach.
Over a few awkward meals, I realized that I consume most of my food while multi-tasking. Or I am so immersed in conversation with my own mental to-do list, my kids, or a colleague, that I’m not really aware of what, or how much, I’m eating.
Bringing mindfulness to your meal times involves slowing down, being conscious of what you are consuming, and simply enjoying the experience of eating. If that is not incentive enough to put down your smart phone between bites, consider that mindful eating can help you make smarter food choices, eat less, and lose weight.
According to research in a Harvard health publication, it takes our brains about 20 minutes to realize we are full. So if we eat quickly and mindlessly, we miss this important cue. What’s more, distracted eating can hinder, even stop, our digestion.
Looking up the benefits of mindful eating online I was intrigued by one woman’s success story. After years of trying, and failing, to lose weight, she signed up for a mindful eating study and says it helped her drop 30 pounds in three years. What is most impressive is that she kept up the mindful eating and, in turn, kept off the weight.
Michael Mantzios, a mindfulness researcher at the University of Birmingham in England, developed another method of mindful eating that he talks about in a Time article. Mantzios created a food diary that study participants completed while eating. They wrote down things such as, the colours and textures of what was on their plates, and how the food smelled and tasted.
This approach sounds much more engaging to me because let’s face it, there is only so much internal reflection on spinach that one can do.
What are your tips for mindful eating and living?