Mindful. Mindful. Mindful.
Yes, this term is used repeatedly but often overlooked. Whether breathing, walking, talking or eating - being mindful is key.
What is mindful eating?
Bringing a sense of joy, presence and gratitude to our meal is mindful eating in simple terms. Keeping this intention and focusing on our food changes the physiological aspects of the body such as metabolism and digestion. Not only does it do good for our system, it also plays an important role in our psychological wellbeing by increasing our satisfaction. Following mindful eating largely involves observing the effect of the meal you are consuming and acknowledging the signals that it sends your body. Off late, the majority of us have been affected by the pandemic that led to changes in our lifestyle. Binge eating in front of the television, rushing through our lunch during work from home or numbing our stressors with snacks to get instant gratification are some of the unhealthiest eating habits. And that’s why, mindful eating practices are the need of the hour.
In an article published by the Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School they state that in a 2011 report from the U.S Department of Agriculture, an average American spends two and a half hours a day eating. What’s shocking is that most of the time, we’re doing something else while eating. Our lives have become so busy that we cannot hold conscious awareness while consuming our meals.
An important aspect to understand before delving into the topic of mindful eating is to understand the different types of hunger that a human experiences. According to Jan Chozen-Bays, MD, author of the book ‘Mindful Eating’, a human has seven different hungers that relate to various parts of the human anatomy.
- Eye hunger– A human being is highly stimulated by sight and hence a meal that is pleasing to the eye is hard to resist whether you are hungry or not.
- Nose hunger– What we know as taste or flavour is entirely the smell of the food. Smell is our strongest sense and hence a freshly baked cake makes us want to relish it without thinking twice.
- Mouth hunger– The food we find appealing is socially conditioned by our childhood and upbringing. When we mindlessly consume food, our mouth is conditioned to crave food on a frequent basis.
- Stomach hunger– The rumble in your stomach can send a misleading message regarding your hunger. It is possible to train our stomach by eating meals at regular times.
- Cellular hunger– This type of hunger is the authentic trigger for hunger. When we feel tired or irritable, these are our cells calling out for nutrients through meals.
- Mind hunger– Food is always on our mind and our current excessive information overload does not help. We are easily influenced by nutritious snacks or diet tips we see online and this makes our mind indecisive over a period of time.
- Heart hunger– Most of the time, what we put in our mouth is related to our emotions and how we feel. When one feels sad, disappointed or lonely they resort to eating their comfort food to fill a void that they are experiencing.
How to inculcate mindfulness before eating?
Let us start from scratch and tune into mindfulness before consumption.
- Begin with your shopping list and add food that has health value
- Pay attention while preparing your food
- Stay aware of the texture of the ingredients you are using
- Wake your senses to the different smells
- Notice how all your bodily functions are coming together when you stir your ingredients
- Be present and joyful during the entire process of cooking
- Dedicate your concentration for those few minutes to truly take in the moment
How to inculcate mindfulness while eating?
These are a few simple self-practice steps to begin your mindful eating journey.
- Pick a calm spot to eat and reduce the amount of distractions around you
- Arrive to the table with an appetite
- Pose this question to yourself – ‘Why am I eating?’ (Could be that you are truly hungry, bored, distracted or seeking comfort. Either way it is best to stay aware)
- Start off with small portions
- Be grateful for the food you are about to consume
- Make sure to take enough pauses in between your meal
- Bring all your senses to the meal and eat slowly by chewing thoroughly
- Try to notice the various flavours on your plate
What are the benefits of mindful eating?
So far we have stressed upon how to practice mindful eating, let us now discuss the advantages below.
- Mindful eating aids in understanding your physical body better
- It tracks you back to the reason as to why you’re eating, further helping in weight loss
- Inculcates the practice of gratitude and cherishing the present moment
- The body is able to digest food betterand improve symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome
- Drastically reduces binge eating and overeating due to emotional needs
- Improves satisfaction level while consuming food and leads to savouring your meal through out
- Gives rise to an improved dietary plan that includes a variety of nutritious food
- Mindful eating respects your body and health
After all the intense discussion, it is time to share some exciting mindful recipes that are easy to whisk together for an enjoyable meal.
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad
3 cups of uncooked pasta (macaroni/penne/fusilli)
2 cups feta cheese
2 cups of cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
1 cup of cooked chickpeas
1 cup of cucumber
1 cup of chopped basil leaves
1 ½ cups of chopped parsley
1 ½ cups of chopped mint
¼ cup walnuts
½ cup of pine nuts (toasted for crunch)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon herb seasoning
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 teaspoon mustard
¼ teaspoon chilli flakes
¾ teaspoon salt
Step 1 – Boil pasta until cooked, drain out the water and toss it with olive oil
Step 2 – Whisk together dressing ingredients in a bowl
Step 3 – Transfer pasta into a bowl and stir in the cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, feta cheese, cucumber, basil, parsley, mint, walnuts and pine nuts
Step 4 – Pour the dressing over and give it a good mix
Step 5 – Enjoy the flavours of this fresh healthy salad
- Lemon Butter Garlic Baked Fish
1 kg fish fillet
5 cloves garlic (minced)
6 tablespoons butter
Minced parsley (to serve)
Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1 – Preheat oven to 425-degree Fahrenheit
Step 2 – In a frying pan, melt butter over medium heat and add the garlic
Step 3 – Fry for a minute and add the lemon zest
Step 4 – Slice the zested lemon thinly and place it on the bottom of the baking dish
Step 5 – Pat the fish dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper
Step 6 – Lay the fish on the lemon slices and brush the garlic butter over the fish
Step 7 – Bake the fish for 10-12 minutes and check if it flakes easily with a fork
Step 8 – Sprinkle some parsley over the top and relish
Make mindful eating a habit.
We understand that it's not as easy as it sounds and that’s why gradual steps towards it will help you in the long run. In our active, fast paced lives, the concept of mindful eating may sound alien but it is that much more important to look after yourself.
Here’s a tip! We at IRIDA Naturals can help you transition in a small way. Our products are sustainable and eco-friendly and they will ensure that you are staying in touch with all things grounded and grateful. Use our stylish and durable products to explore the mindful recipes shared above and keep us posted with your experience.