I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve looked around for an item of food, then realized that I’d already eaten it. Obviously I wasn’t paying attention, as I was distracted and eating without thought. In this post we’re going to explore how eating with intention and attention can help you make better food choices for blood sugar control and enjoy your food more.
Eating is a natural and healthy activity and is one of life’s pleasures. Often we become diet-obsessed, food obsessed and riddled with guilt at our choices in our love-hate relationship with food.
Mindful eating is eating with intention and attention:
- Eating with the intention of encouraging a healthy and nutritious choice for your body.
- Eating with the attention necessary for noticing and enjoying your food and its effects on your body.
It’s not just about eating slowly, it’s about understanding the physical and emotional cues and recognizing those times when you eat, but you’re not really hungry. In these cases it’s about finding other distractions, rather than using food.
When you are controlling your blood sugar levels, you are already focussing on food for nourishment, but it is also about enjoyment. You are eating for optimal satiety and fullness, but also using the energy from food, to enjoy your life.
This broad application makes mindful eating a powerful tool for developing a healthier, happier relationship with food.
If you struggle with food, you often react without thought to the triggers, thoughts and feelings that you experience. You may also feel powerless to change and continue to repeat the same actions over and over, such as diving for the fridge when emotionally fragile.
Being mindful increases your awareness of these ongoing patterns and creates a space so that you can identify those triggers and actions.
The next time you reach for food, ask the question am I hungry? Once you ask this question, you are able to respond. This will empower you to break automatic eating, or habits that have developed over many years.
Research suggests that changing our attitudes and practices around eating and mealtime rituals, may be every bit as important as our food choices. Mealtimes are often a big occasion in many European countries, where they are the focus of the day and of family time.
How to introduce mindfulness into your routine:
1. Eat more slowly
I’ve watched people devour plates of food so fast, it’s like they are up for an Olympic record. Eating is not a race. Taking time to really enjoy your food is incredibly important and very healthy. It’s not about chewing a certain number of times, but noticing every bite and noticing when you are starting to feel full. It’s also about making time and space for meals and not eating on the go.
2. Enjoy quite time during meals
This is more difficult for families with children, but silence during meals should be savoured and can be used for reflection and enjoyment. Start with eating for three minutes without talking, or enjoy one meal a week in silence. You can also do the same for snack time, try and take time to enjoy it alone. This can be applied to drinks, such as coffee and tea, by taking the time to enjoy the drink in a peaceful and quite environment.
3. Turn off the TV, phone or tablet
Everything in our life is full of distractions, with the TV playing to itself in the background, or family or friends glued to a tablet or phone screen. Make mealtime an electronics free zone, for at least a couple of meals a week.
4. Savour the flavours
Enjoy spices, tanginess, crunch and texture, all the enjoyment and sensation that food can offer, this is a great way to start eating mindfully. Consider mixing up the flavours and textures of food.
5. Connect with your food
Mindfulness is really about restoring your relationship with food. It’s about planning your meals, visiting local markets or even growing your own vegetables. Start to enjoy the full experience of food, from connecting with your food through gardening or being part of your community and understanding what is available locally. Try to start implementing these changes slowly, by going to a market once a month, rather than the usual supermarket dash.
It’s a commitment to appreciating, respecting and, above all, enjoying the food you eat every day. And while the focus becomes how you eat, not so much what you eat, you may find your ideas of what you want to eat shifting dramatically for the better too.
If you enjoyed reading this, share with friends and family and if you have any tips please share them below in the comments.