When I watched this video for the first time, I belly laughed so hard people came in from another room to see what was going on. This furry friend demonstrates absolute presence, which is at the heart of mindful eating.
My favorite definition of mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally (John Kabat-Zin). When I apply this to eating, it means that I choose to pay attention to the variety and quality of my food, where and when I eat, and what I think and feel as I am purposeful about my meal. Through mindful eating, I have experienced overwhelming joy, improved habits and deeper understanding of myself as well as my relationship to food.
While cooking and preparing to eat, I contemplate the earth, sun, and rain that grew the food, the many hands that harvested and prepared it, and experience joy as I recognize the vast time and effort that went into bringing food to my kitchen. I am thankful for the many people involved, for the wonder of creation, and the privilege to choose whatever I want to eat. When I do this, my heart is at peace and full of gratitude. I am free to eat from a place of contentment rather than stress or mindlessness.
I usually take a look at each bite of my food, experience the unique textures and tastes, chew deliberately and slowly. This allows my body and mind to receive signals that can tell me when I’ve had enough, and if it enjoys the tastes and textures or it is looking for something else. In this way, I can make healthier decision about what I need and want. Truth is, when I listen through mindful eating, I make better choices, eat less and feel more satisfied.
Like most other women in Western culture, I experience all kinds of thoughts and feelings while eating, and not all are pleasant. With mindful eating, I note the positive and negative messages I tell myself, acknowledge any judgments, fears or the numbness that is sometimes there when I eat. While eating mindfully, I can observe and let those experiences go in the moment. This deepens the practice of releasing judgment but the increased awareness of thoughts and feelings can later spur me on to address areas for growth and healing as I am ready.
I believe the practice of mindful eating can transform any experience with food into one that promotes peace, increased nourishment and deepened spiritual connection.
Tools to Improve Your Relationship to Food and Yourself
The Center for Vitality and Balance can support you in the pursuit of creating a healthy relationship to food and ultimately your whole being – body, mind, and spirit.
Psychotherapy is a helpful tool to explore the origins of negative thinking which causes challenges with body image and self-perception. Therapy can assist in replacing unhealthy thought behaviors with healthy and self-loving behaviors that support making more conscious food choices every day.
Classes about mindfulness are offered monthly to guide participants through the experience of being in the present moment. Other classes offered quarterly teach practical ways to incorporate delicious and in-season recipes into your nutritional regimen.
One on one nutrition and health education provides individualized coaching and guidance to change specific dietary patterns to improve your health and well-being.