Are you snacking while reading this? When is the last time you simply sat with your meal instead of taking bites in between typing or yelling at Arie on the TV screen for being maybe the worst Bachelor ever? It’s time to learn about mindful eating.
Our friends at The Quiet Company are hosting an Eating with Intention even to teach us to slow down, savor, and enjoy our meals. So we asked founder Emily Thring – along with panelists Tara Miller, holistic nutritionist Adrianna Stadnyk of The Fix + Co, and yogi/reiki master and all-around mindfulness expert Tara Good – to give us a few teaser tips on how to practice mindful eating in advance of their event. After all, if we’re going to put so much effort into making the most Instagrammable smoothie bowl, shouldn’t we spend time tasting it too?
First things first: what does it mean to you to eat with intention?
Tara Miller: To me, eating with intention means to be actively engaged in the eating process. It means checking in to determine hunger levels prior to eating, and then based on that, choosing what I feel like eating (rather than what I think I should be eating). It is chewing and tasting the food I have selected. It is taking pleasure and satisfaction out of the meal/snack, in addition to nourishment.
It is permission to stop when I am full (even if my plate is not) or to get seconds if I am still hungry. It is then checking in again to note fullness, satisfaction and how what I have just eaten has left me feeling. Super important to this whole process is always going through it without judgement. You are free to do as you please, learning a little from each experience.
Adrianna Stadnyk: Eating with intention means being in the moment and aware of what you are eating and how you are feeling when you are eating something. It means to eat with purpose, without passiveness, and enjoying the whole meal from start to finish without negative feelings of stress and guilt.
Emily Thring: One thing I became mindful of was that I was taking time to prepare beautiful meals and inhaling them in minutes. I try to really take a break to eat and slow down. Put my fork down between bites and enjoy each bite.
Tara Good: To me, every moment of every day is a chance to practice mindfulness. It’s a way of life. So it only makes sense that this mindfulness trickles over when it comes to eating. With intention and mindful eating, we nourish ourselves with a focus of gratitude and awareness of the food we are eating. This intention and focus automatically will begin to attract you to food that fuels, and food that is sustainable and high in vibration, as opposed to food that gets you by.
We’ve incorporated mindfulness into so much of our lives, but mindful eating seems to be something that still eludes a lot of people. What are some ways we can practice this?
TM: A simple tip I recommend to clients when being mindful does not come super naturally, is to start by stopping to assess their hunger levels before eating. Just this awareness connects you with your body which may (or may not!) carry through the rest of the meal. Either way, it is a place to begin without feeling overwhelmed.
AS: Eat without distractions – not in front of the tv, while scrolling through Facebook, or while driving. Take the time to chew and taste your food. Chew until it is mush in your mouth. The first step in digestion occurs in the mouth while chewing. Smell your meal, take a good look at the beautiful meal in front of you before you eat. There is some truth to eating with your eyes!
ET: I try to create rituals around my meals. I will make an effort to sit down for dinner with my partner and spend some time catching up, or enjoy my morning superfood latte on my meditation cushion with my journal.
TG: Creating ritual around your meal times can assist with the mindful aspect of mindful eating. For example, sitting at the table as opposed to on the couch. Lighting a candle or saying a short prayer or intention allows you to bring that focus into the food. Even just taking a deep breath before your first bite will pull you out of your mind, and bring you into the moment. From there, you can enjoy what you are eating to the fullest. This can be a time of pleasure as opposed to a chore.
How has our obsession with all things digital affected our ability to engage in mindful eating?
TM: We’ve all been there – eating in front of a screen and then we look down and our food is gone! It takes work to break this habit, but if you can notice how you feel after eating with vs without digital distractions, it gets easier to make the change.
ET: It is so so hard to get out from in front of screens and not multitask when eating. Hello entrepreneurs and desk lunches!! I try to step away from a screen when I eat, even if its just to turn away for a few minutes. It gives me a chance to reflect not only on what I’m eating but what I’ve been doing with my day.
TG: It takes away the enjoyment of the present moment. Instead of being with what you have and where you are, you get pulled into other people living in their present moment, or you get drawn in to the external world. This creates stress, which can cause us to over eat, make the wrong choices, or simply just not feel satisfied after we are done.
We’re talking a lot about gut health lately. How might eating on the go or while looking at a screen affect our gut health?
TM: If we are doing other things while eating, we are not giving digestion the energy it needs to function optimally. If we are running around and stressed out, our gut will suffer.
AS: Stress = inflammation. Anytime you are inducing a stress response, you are not digesting well and also creating inflammation. Anything that increases your anxiety levels or distracts you from the task at hand creates stress on your system because you are creating the flight or fight reaction.