Mindful eating is underrated – it can be so beneficial! According to Utah State University, many individuals experience improved self-esteem and a sense of empowerment from practicing regularly. Additionally, mindful eating helps our bodies absorb more nutrients! Overall, mindful eating is a great way to improve both our physical and mental/emotional relationships with food. So, “What is mindful eating?” It’s the practice of slowing down and paying attention to your body’s signals in relation to food. It’s also a way of practicing appreciation for your body and the food you consume. Oftentimes, mindful eating can be a helpful approach to mending or strengthening one’s relationship with food.
I benefit from the practice of mindful eating in that it reminds me to appreciate my food while also bringing me to the present.
Food seems kind of like a miracle when I really think about it. The moments that I get to enjoy food are ones worth focusing on. A couple of ways that I practice mindful eating are by imagining where my food came from and by rating my food.
In a previous blog about birding, I wrote that using imagination can be grounding just as much as being present. I think that applies to mindful eating too! For example, the next time you eat an orange or another piece of fruit, think about where it came from. Did you grow it yourself? If not, maybe a farmer grew it hundreds of miles away. Someone spent precious time making sure that the plant your fruit grew on had everything it needed to thrive. Their care, plenty of sunshine, and much of the plant’s energy went into creating the very miracle that you now have in front of you. Still, someone harvested it and shipped it to a store where someone put it on display. You saw its value and brought it home. Now, here you are, holding it. You pick up the fruit and take a bite, grateful for all the moments and effort leading to now. Pause and soak it in. What questions do you have about how your food made it to you? I encourage you to be curious about it!
I love food, so paying extra attention to it can also encourage me to appreciate something positive about my day. That said, not all the food we eat is our favorite. Evaluating food on a scale of 1-10 can be another way to eat mindfully. If you’d like, you’re welcome to try it while you’re finishing this paragraph! I’m often interested in how my food looks, smells, tastes, and feels. What colors are present? Can you make out the smell of specific ingredients? What flavors do you notice? Is it soft, crunchy, or somewhere in between? What’s the temperature like? You can choose any categorization you’re interested in for your rating! Feel free to share your food ratings with me!
When I’m finished with my mindful eating, I often feel refreshed. I end with a clearer mind, steadier breathing, relaxed muscles, and boosted mood. I hope that appreciating your food’s journey, rating your food, or other mindful eating exercises benefit you as well! If my suggestions don’t seem like a good fit for you, you’re welcome to use an app or online audio for guidance instead.
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Utah State University. “Mindful Eating: Benefits, Challenges, and Strategies.” USU, 14 Apr. 2021, extension.usu.edu/nutrition/research/mindful-eating