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Maidenfolk’s Guide to Mindful Eating

Maidenfolk’s Guide to Mindful Eating

Mindfulness as a meditation practice and way of living comes from ancient Buddhist traditions, and has made major headway in the western world in recent years. Mindful eating has sprouted out of the mindfulness movement as a way to address health concerns and overall well-being. Being mindful generally includes holding a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment, sensations, and feelings. With mindful eating, the overall goal begins with becoming more attuned and aware to what you are eating, the state in which you are in, and all of the senses that are involved in that.

Mindful eating isn’t simply chewing your food for a long time, it requires a greater presence and awareness. It means tuning in to your body’s internal cues of hunger and fullness. Identifying what your triggers around food are and what your relationship to food has been. Infusing each meal with a sense of gratitude. Becoming aware of what foods bring about a sense of nourishment, acknowledging that no food is bad nor good. Note your intention and motivation for you to embark on this journey, but also be careful not to put too much pressure on yourself to see a specific outcome such a specific weight loss or health change.

An exercise to get you started…

Step one of our guide to mindful eating may sound silly, but it is eye opening. Try eating a raisin with complete mindfulness. Yep, you heard that right. Begin by putting the raisin into your mouth. Before you start chewing, notice the texture and sensation rather than any thoughts. Begin to chew, bringing your awareness to the taste of the raisin and movements of the jaw. When you are ready to swallow the raisin, become aware of the transition and follow the sensation of chewing to swallowing. Become as mindful as you can in this process. Close with a deep inhale and exhale. Most mindful eating doesn’t have to be this precise, but it is a great place to start in order to spark inspiration for your mindful eating practice to evolve.

Image is of a bowl of granola with fruit, yogurt, and milk, a side dish of blueberries, and a wooden spoon, a great meal for mindful eating.
Photo by Dani Rendina

Here are some ways to practice mindful eating in your daily meals:

  • Eat without distractions. Pause the TV, scrolling, and working while eating. Make a point to eat sitting at a table, even for snacks. Bring your whole awareness to your plate. Make your dining table an inviting place to eat your meals mindfully by perhaps having a beautiful bouquet and a lovely table cloth.
  • Before you begin consuming your meal, take a moment to gaze at the food on your plate. Notice all the colors, textures, and smells. Take a few deep breaths before your meal to signal to your nervous system that it is safe to fully enjoy and digest your food.
  • Bring about a sense of gratitude and pleasure as you eat. Focus your gratitude on the quality of your food, how it got to your plate, who grew it, and how it will fuel your body. Allow yourself to truly feel the pleasure of enjoying a delicious and nourishing meal – drop any judgement around the food and simply enjoy.
  • Chew your food thoroughly. Make a point to chew around 30 times per bite before swallowing. This is where you take your time to explore all the senses that your food inspires – taste, texture, smell, and even temperature.
  • Break your usual habit by mixing up how you eat your food. Try eating your food with chopsticks instead of a fork, use your non dominant hand to eat, stay at the table a little longer than you might usually. Introducing a new way of doing things will help to foster a mindful approach.
  • Practice a daily or weekly mindfulness meditation. Practicing mindfulness meditation for even a few minutes a day will help to foster the skill of mindfulness, as it doesn’t always come easy. It takes practice and dedication, so be sure to support your mindful eating journey with meditation.

Remember…

When we eat mindfully, we are more likely to make better choices for ourselves. Mindful eating is both universally helpful for anyone, and also requires listening and responding to your unique body. Journal about what you discover as you go, have you been overeating or undereating in the past? How does it feel to eat only until full? What do you notice about your relationship to food?

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@halfbakedharvest

Lastly, be kind to yourself in this process. Sometimes, we don’t have the time or energy to make each meal fully mindful, and that is ok! We can try again at the next meal. If you find yourself struggling in the process, that is also perfectly ok. Mindful eating is not always easy and can bring up a lot of feelings that may have been suppressed. Seek help from a professional or trusted loved one if you find that you need more support. Check out The Center for Mindful Eating for more resources. Also, read here about intuitive eating, which can pair well with mindful eating!

What motivates you to try mindful eating? Message us @Maidenfolk on Instagram and let us know, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter below!

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