Some practices for conscious eating:
- Sit down when you eat. It’s best not to eat while in the car or when walking or attending to other tasks. This is not always possible but do the best that you can. Take a few breaths to shift your attention to the food you are about to eat—notice the food even if just for a few seconds— with all of your senses
- Chew slowly. Most of the time we are chewing our food and already thinking about the next bite—instead of enjoying the food we are in the process of eating. You might want to try eating with non-dominant hand-to slow yourself down—pay attention to your own pace of eating rather than being influenced by the people around you.
- Savor your food. Experiment with becoming aware of each bite, involving all of your senses. Research shows that the first bite is most pleasurable-so pay particular attention to that bite. When you eat, do your best to just eat. Leave off electronics and develop the association of being calm and present when eating.
- Simplify. declutter space your kitchen and eating areas and consider the placement of food in your home. Place heathy food in places in key places—within your line of vision. For example—a colorful bowl of seasonal fruits apples, pears, oranges stimulates the senses and can generate a feeling of tranquility. Have a bowl of cut vegetables ready to eat in a central place in the refrigerator. It’s also important to keep the junk food tucked away out of sight or ideally out of the house completely. Keep your favorite teas visible, so you think to enjoy a cup of tea which sometimes is just enough to quiet cravings.
- One psychologist specializing in mindful eating recommends smiling in between bites. She explains that this pause creates a feel good moment in our minds. The research shows that smiling can generate positive sensations in the mind and body, so we begin to make more positive associations with eating. Similarly taking a breath in-between bites slows us down and allows for more pleasure to be derived from the act of eating. The idea is to skillfully interrupt the cycle of unconscious eating and raise it into conscious awareness. This also means learning to regulate emotions in a direct, healthy way rather than resorting to food for comfort. Keep in mind that small simple changes can add up and make a big difference over time
Over time Melissa introduced a number of these changes into her daily life. First she got rid of the junk food and started buying fresh whole foods. She mostly sat at a table when she ate and often said a prayer of gratitude before eating.
Melissa was now living alone so she had plenty of time to practice making beautiful, colorful, nutritious meals. She slowed down her eating—rather than feeling desperate and triggered when she ate, she began to savor the meals she carefully prepared for herself.
At first this felt indulgent, but after a while Melissa felt like she was learning to care for and love herself.
Conscious eating is a process and can be developed just like any other skill with practice, over time. The heightened consciousness developed through the way you eat ultimately spills into all behaviors. That said slip ups are part of the process and it’s about getting back on the path as swiftly as possible.
We could all stand to improve our ability to savor the food we eat. I suggest you consider implementing any one of the strategies suggested here.
I would love to know what works for you and any ideas that you may have about this important topic. Please feel free to connect with me on FB @ Dr. Randy Kamen Twitter @DrRandyKamen or on my website DrRandyKamen.com