So, I am pretty new to this whole mindfulness business in relative terms. I will put my hand up that I aim to put some time aside everyday to do some meditation, but it doesn’t always work out that way, for various reasons (or excuses.) What I have found though is that being mindful doesn’t mean you have to sit still for hours on end in a candle lit room, but that making time in your day to be present is just as powerful. When I mention the word mindfulness to some of my clients, they glaze over and get a bit uncomfortable, so I prefer talking about being present.
I have a small dog which I adore and the best thing about having a dog is having to take her out to walks, well everyday. Living in a busy city on a busy road is not conducive to uninterrupted thoughts or stillness in my day and that is not something I can change right now, but what is possible is walking to one of the many wonderful parks such as the Horniman museum, Dulwich Park or Peckham Rye around me and taking some time to be present. I stop and look, see, smell and feel the air on my skin. Notice the changing leaves, smell the wet soil and listen to the many bird sounds over and above the usual humdrum of the city. This helps to train my mind to observe my own thoughts and just let them go, while I focus on the right here and now.
What does this have to do with food?
It has everything to do with food and eating. The trend these days are to take pictures of your food, post it on social media and hope to get a kickback, without actually remembering yourself what it tasted like after your melt down about the three instead 3000 likes. When was the last time you stopped and savoured your food, looked at it like a curious scientist, take in the smells, observe the colours, textures and then the tasting, chewing and swallowing. Imagine if every meal you ate, you ate it as if it was your first on a new planet. If you took your time, used your teeth to chew and engaged in meaningful conversation rather than reading, working on your laptop, posting pictures or better still run for the train.
If you’re eating while under stress (which comes in many forms which most of us are familiar with) your digestive system shuts down and well the rest is just a disaster. Reason? Your body is getting ready to jump into action because of the perceived stress. By that I mean there is not a real life situation you have to run away from or a tree you have to climb, but nevertheless, the body is preparing for fight or flight and there is no time to digest your peanut butter rye sandwich when you need to move, fast.
Not only does eating fast, on the run, while standing and absentmindedly have an effect on your poor digestion, but we tend to eat too much. The brain hasn’t even copped on that you’re eating when you’re on the run again or you’re up for seconds. This is a big contributing factor to weight gain, so it may not be the food on your plate, but how fast you’re eating.
You can eat what you want, but you’re not allowed to finish your food in less than 20 minutes. Yes, it takes time, but then all good things does.
Happy chewing and would love to hear what you discover on your journey to mindfulness eating (or being present while eating)