Sometimes I find myself in the kitchen breaking into my supply of home made dark chocolate that I had intended to eat sparingly. I’ll eat a few pieces, go back to what I was doing, and then within a minute I’m back at the fridge. How do you explain this behaviour? I’m not hungry. I seem to be compelled to eat for the sake of eating!
This motivated me to Google ‘conscious eating.’ This essentially means deliberate or intentional eating.
Sometimes we use food to distract us from pain. Were you ever given a cookie as well as a band-aid when you hurt your knee as a child? We may have unconsciously taken this lesson into adulthood with us and have come to depend on food to take the edge off all sorts of discomforts.
The primary purpose of eating is to satisfy hunger. Intuitive eating involves knowing how much to eat to feel content. It means savouring the taste and being aware of chewing and swallowing. The more aware you are, the more likely you will have a satisfying eating experience. By eating consciously and we are able to eat an appropriate amount.
I would like to learn to sit down and eat mindfully and be fully focused on every bite as I eat. I would like to show gratitude for my food more frequently. I rush through meals all the time. Why? Because I’m a high energy individual and always feel I have something pressing to attend to, so I don’t make time to enjoy food. Is my body undeserving of being nourished and nurtured properly?
Some tips I found useful on eating consciously:
– Assess your mood prior to eating. When you feel confident and strong, you are far more conscious of eating. When we feel vulnerable, insecure and upset, we are far less conscious and turn to food to lift our mood and boost our confidence. There is a correlation between over-eating and low self esteem.
– Eliminate distractions. Sit with your plate in front of you at the dinner table, instead of in front of the TV. Allowing yourself to be distracted sends a message that you are not worthy of slowing down, nourishing and nurturing your body’s deepest needs.
– Align your physical, emotional and mental self prior to eating. You can do this by inhaling deeply for a few seconds.
– Eat slower. Remind yourself that eating is not a race. Take the time to enjoy and saviour your food increases your likeliness of noticing when you are full. Chewing your food also means you will digest it more easily.
– Pay attention to flavour. It can be difficult to notice you are even eating when you scoff down your food. Start to saviour all the flavours and textures of the food.
Japanese people living on the Okinawa islands live long and healthy lives and have one of the highest rates of longevity in the world. This may be influenced by a practise of calorie moderation called hara hachi bu, which means “leave the table when you’re 80 percent full.”
Conscious eating builds a sense of safety, trust and connectedness. It doesn’t have to involve super-human concentration but rather a simple commitment to respecting, appreciating and above all enjoying the food you choose to eat every day.
The more you eat, the less flavor; the less you eat, the more flavor ~Chinese Proverb