is Eating fast as unhealthy as eating fast-food? If you’ve ever eaten an entire dinner while scrolling your Instagram feed or slurped down a green smoothie in one gulp while behind the wheel of your car, this piece is for you. In other words, it’s for all of us.
Take a deep breath, put down your phone and read these tips on mindful eating from holistic nutritionist Kristin Dahl. They’re too simple not to implement and too valuable for our health to ignore. Learn to recognize which foods make you feel great – and which don’t. Eating mindfully will actually boost the amount of nutrients your body is able to absorb…
Mindful eating is a yogic practice in which we bring a strong sense of awareness to the ritual of eating. For many of us, busy lives catch us eating behind the wheel, at our desk or in front of the TV – just about anywhere except the kitchen table. The act of eating often becomes a mindless task rather than the enjoyable, deeply nourishing experience it should be.
Slowing down and taking the time to enjoy your food allows you to become attuned to what your body needs and to notice when it’s satiated. When you gather ingredients for a meal, begin to open your awareness to how the colors, textures and scents of these nutrient-dense foods make you feel. Ignite all of your senses every time you eat and connect to your food and the source from which it came, savoring the richness, flavors and qualities of each meal. Offer yourself loving thoughts as you eat and remember the incredible gifts this food is offering you.
Your whole body will benefit from being present while eating. Mindful eating is a clear, elevated awareness without criticism or self-judgment, and a pleasurable experience that supports good health. Remember, it is not just what you eat, but how you eat that matters.
9 Tips for More Mindful Eating
Sit Down + Unplug
Rushing through meals or eating mindlessly can often create gas, bloating and digestive issues. It is crucial to take a moment and give your mind and body a break. Gift yourself with this time and allow food to replenish you.
Before you eat or while you’re preparing your meal, do several rounds of diaphragmatic breathing (especially if you are feeling emotional or stressed). This relaxes the nervous system and enhances blood flow to the digestive organs. It also allows you tune in to your body so that you can connect to what your body truly needs.
Did you know it takes the brain approximately 20 minutes to know that you have had enough food? Pausing between bites can facilitate a healthy habit of eating slowly. Do this by setting down your fork several times during the meal to check in with your body. By slowing down, you can tune in to when you are full and avoid overeating and stressing your digestive system. The goal is to be satisfied and energized by your meal, not overly stuffed.
Digestion begins in the mouth; saliva contains enzymes that help break down food particles before entering the digestive tract. The longer food is exposed to saliva (through chewing), the easier it moves through your intestines and the less gas it creates. Try to chew each bite 30-50 times before you swallow. This will kick start the digestive process and allow proper absorption of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, which is essential for optimal health.
Engage the Senses
Mindful eating is a powerful, sensory experience. Take time to appreciate all the nutrient-rich goodness, flavors, textures and aromas. Tapping into all your senses is a great way to create presence while eating. Savor the moment and fully connect to your food and the company you’re with. Taking in all of your surroundings makes mealtime a pleasurable and fulfilling experience.
Drink Apart From Meals
It’s best to drink water 15 minutes before you eat and 30 minutes to an hour after you eat. Drinking during meals dilutes digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid, slowing down the digestive process. Drinking away from meals helps to reduce excess gas and bloating.
Eat When You're Hungry
Are you thirsty or hungry? Is your stomach growling? How much food does your body need today? It’s easy to fall into a pattern of mindless or emotional eating when you are not listening to your body. Setting regular meal times is important for regulating blood sugar and metabolism, but it’s imperative that you check in on a day-to-day, meal-to-meal basis and see what your body actually needs.
Take a moment to bless your food and everyone involved in growing, preparing and bringing the food to your plate before each meal. Expressing gratitude at mealtime reconnects us to our roots and the earth’s magnificent ability to sustain and nourish us.
Complete The Practice
Take a few moments after each meal to breathe deeply and allow your body to digest. Mindfulness is a great tool to see what feels best for your body.