I dipped my spoon into my soup and slurped the creamy goodness noisily. I crunched my piece of toast, delighting at the way it broke into chunks in my mouth… And then crumbs spilled all over my keyboard and I very nearly knocked the bowl of soup over trying to clean it up.
I eat lunch at my desk. I know, it’s not great. I choose to forgo my lunchbreak so that I can finish work half an hour earlier and eat afternoon tea with my son instead… I know it doesn’t make it okay that I eat lunch while sifting through emails, more often than not making everyone in my open-plan office hungry by wafting food smells around, but at least I have some mindful eating in my day.
I often bleat on about mindful eating and I do feel like a bit of hypocrite because I don’t practice what I preach at lunchtime, but that doesn’t make me wrong. It just makes me normal. We don’t always have the time (or inclination) to eat mindfully, but I still think we should strive to eat mindfully when we can.
Mindful eating is eating with awareness. That sounds kind of vague and new-agey but basically it means actually focusing on your food when you’re eating. It’s about enjoying your meal! No counting calories or judging yourself over your food choices, just appreciating your food. People who eat mindfully tend to savour their food more, choose more nutritious foods, and eat less than those who don’t. It’s not exactly rocket science to figure out why: they take their time over their meal instead of shovelling food in while multi-tasking.
So, how do you eat mindfully?
- Sit down to eat. Don’t stand at the pantry or hover over the bench. Actually take your food to the table.
- Put your food on a plate, even if it’s just a small snack. There’s something about this that makes food infinitely more enjoyable. It’s why I tip chips into a bowl instead of eating them out of the packet – they just taste better that way.
- Turn off distractions. Put your phone away, turn off Netflix. That stuff detracts from the food. You can’t focus on your delicious snack if you’re scrolling Instagram.
- Take your time. This allows your brain to catch up with your stomach and let you know when you’re getting full. If you find it hard to slow down (you might be like me and have grown up with three brothers – if you didn’t eat it quickly, you didn’t eat!), try putting your knife and fork down and having a sip of water between mouthfuls.
- Bring all your senses to the meal – see, smell, listen, feel and taste your food. Try this out with a piece of chocoalte. Imagine you’re trying it for the first time. Smell it, listen to the snap as you take a tiny bite, feel it melting on your tongue. I guarantee it’ll be more delicious than if you scoffed it down.
- Appreciate your food – think about the work that went in to getting that food on the table. The people who grew it, picked it, prepared it, cooked it. Be grateful for your food.
- Share food with loved ones. This isn’t mindful eating, stritcly speaking, but it sure is important, and it can help the process of eating mindfully because you’ll probably sit down to eat together and take your time over the meal. Plus, eating together is wonderful in and of itself.
It may not be for all meals and snacks of the day, or for all days of the week, but I hope you have the ability to carve out some time for mindful eating somewhere. Not only will you appreciate and enjoy your food more, you’ll also save yourself the hassle of spilling soup all over your keyboard.