In a world of quick and convenient food choices, there is an important need to bring dinner, or any meal for that matter, back to the table. Any table will do. It is not the location that is important. Instead, it is the idea of being mindful when we eat, which happens best at a table.
Mindful eating, defined by psychologist Susan Albers, is “when you experience each bite of food from start to finish, slowing down every aspect of the eating process to be fully aware of its different parts…” It is tuning into how you eat and being conscious of your food choices.
• are not judmental of the foods they eat.
• accept different foods for what they are.
• do not consider foods good or bad.
• use all the senses to observe and enjoy the foods they eat.
• typically draw more satisfaction from food.
• eat less than those who do not eat mindfully.
Anyone can become more mindful in just a few weeks by following these easy tips:
First, sit and eat at a table. This designates an area that is set aside just for eating. The benefit of having a reserved space is that it sets boundaries about other places where eating may not be ideal. Having that designated eating area in your mind gives you control of when you eat which decreases the opportunity for mindless snacking.
Keep in mind, your work desk is not your table.
• You do not want to know how many germs linger on your desk and computer.
• Eating at your desk eliminates those boundaries often leading to uncontrolled snacking as you work all day.
Second, do not multitask while you eat. Multitasking while you eat goes against the idea of mindful eating. When you participate in another activity while eating, you allow external cues from your environment to determine when you are full, instead of being tuned in to internal cues and body signals. For example, if a person eats while watching a TV show, the length of the show will determine when that person is done eating. Be aware that this also associates the activity of watching TV with eating, which leads to the habit of eating every time that person watches a show.
Third, tune in to all 5 senses when eating.
• Sight – Take a moment to look at your food. Note the different shapes, textures, colors, and how it fills your plate.
• Smell – Inhale the aromas.
• Touch – As you eat, consider how the different textures feel in your mouth.
• Taste – Chew slowly tasting each different flavor.
• Sound – Listen to the crunch of the vegetable as you bite into it.
Identifying each of the senses when eating increases food satisfaction, raises your awareness of fullness and satiety, and puts your conscious mind behind your food choices instead of your hungry stomach. Also, tuning into your senses slows down the eating process giving your body’s internal cues a chance to signal when you have had your fill. All of the senses work together to create more personal satisfaction and overall comfort with food.
Rise to the challenge of being more mindful of your food choices for the next month.
• Eat at least one full meal at a table every day without any form of distraction.
• Focus on the food in front of you and apply your five senses as you eat.
• Eliminate all distractions. Simply enjoy conversation with your companions, or rest in the peaceful solitude of being alone as you eat.
Food is delicious and meant to be enjoyed. Bring dinner back to the table, and you will find both improved health and enjoyment will meet you there.