mindfulness health fdp7 Top Tips For Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating. What does that make you think of? For me mindful eating covers a range of things from shopping mindfully or consciously right through to sitting at the table and eating mindfully so what are the benefits, what does it really mean and is all the trouble worthwhile?

In this fast paced world, where everyone rushes around saying “I’m so busy” all the time, food and eating have fallen prey to a grab and go culture. Eating on trains, at desks, in the street or at fast food outlets has become the norm but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Eating healthily is NOT about grab and go…it’s about taking time, savouring appreciating and really tasting the food and allow it to digest properly. But, I hear you cry (!), I don’t have time Karen. And that’s where I have to disagree… actually you don’t have time NOT to eat better as it provides greater mental clarity, greater physical energy and satisfies you for longer. Lets look at some easy ways to bring mindful eating into your life

1) Shop Consciously. One of my clients said recently (on a Wednesday) “we spent £x (a lot) on food at the weekend but I don’t seem to have anything to actually cook”.  And this is part of it. Getting clear before shopping as to what you actually want – planning to a greater or lesser degree what you will prepare during the week (or for the duration of time until you shop again) so that you know what you can mix and match. What can be cooked to cover 2 main meals saving time the 2nd day? what can be used as leftovers for lunch the next day? how can you ring the changes with different vegetables or a salad to make a main dish seem quite different a 2nd day?

2) Stick To The List. Another aspect of shopping consciously is not being lured into special offers on foods you don’t actually want/need or at least not in bulk. The store, understandably, is on a mission to get you to spend more. 2 for 1, 3 for 2, 2nd half price – all these offers don’t save you money if you don’t get to consume the food before it goes off. I like buying what is on special offer and then building meal plans round it but if you find you just buy food randomly try creating a colour coded list with different food categories bunched together – it will avoid distraction, take less time and have you much better set up for using everything you buy. (and I bet you’ll spend less too!)

3) Organic Foods and Provenance. Being mindful about which foods it is really important to buy organic and which you can quite safely buy non-organic is important if buying everything organic is too expensive. The best resource to check this is the Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen list which you can find here. If you buy the cheapest possible meat, poultry and fish it is very likely it is not of the highest standard – makes sense, doesn’t it. But what does that mean? Well, the likelihood is that it has been cultivated in an environment with a lot of chemicals including potential anti-biotics and steroids…which you DON’T want in YOUR body. As much as realistically possible buy locally sourced food and/or a known supplier, wild and line caught fish, free range, organic depending on the food. And please only ever buy genuinely free range eggs.

4) Prepare Real Food with Love. Processed food, as opposed to pre-prepared real food, tends to be full of chemical additives, preservatives and other “nasties”. Real food, bought with thought, and then prepared and cooked with love will provide a more satisfying meal all round. Taking a little time is all it takes and I do mean little! It is as quick to prepare certain dishes as it is to reheat a frozen dinner so go for stir fries, pan fried dishes, steamed and baked fish…there are plenty to choose from. Fish, poultry, thinly sliced meat…all of these can create a meal in minutes with a great deal more nutrition and enjoyment than a TV dinner. And talking of TV dinners…

5) Sit Down At A Table To Eat. One of the (many) problems with grab and go eating is that the mind doesn’t have a chance to register that it has had food and therefore it is not satisfied. The same is true of eating food direct from the fridge or cupboard, and eating at your computer or desk. Even if you are on your own sit at a table to eat, take a few moments to breathe and give gratitude for the food and then eat – you will digest your food better and feel more satisfied and full for longer. The same applies to…

6) Eat One Mouthful At A Time. Now this might sound obvious but actually most people don’t do it. Most people do not really chew their food, swallow and wait a moment before taking another mouthful. Instead the norm is to stuff the next mouthful in even while there is food still in the mouth. Again, eating more mindfully…chewing, swallowing, breathing, waiting…pays dividends in both mental and physical wellbeing.

7) Don’t Jump Up From The Table. You’ve finished your meal. Sit and enjoy it for a moment, be grateful for the meal – however small. Allow your digestive system to work before immediately jumping up and getting on with the next thing.

What you will find is that with these simple techniques and routines, although they might appear at first to take time in fact they give you more time …More energy so you can do more, feel better, look better. Let me know how you get on!