What is Mindful Eating
One of the ancient secrets to optimal health and longevity in the classical Chinese medicine texts is mindful eating. Scientists have more recently discovered what the ancient sages have known for thousands of years: if we slow down, we are able to be present with food and our relationship to food and we begin to know the true meaning of healthful eating.
Studies conclude that stress negatively impacts the GI tract by disrupting GI movement, increasing visceral irritability, altering the rate and extent of various GI secretions, modifying permeability of the intestinal barrier, disrupting blood flow, and increasing intestinal bacterial counts.
Mindful eating is relaxing. We live such fast paced lives, eating becomes an auto-pilot activity. We tend to unconsciously take one bite after another with the objective of finishing the meal, or we multi-task as we eat, get caught up in conversations, surf the Internet, or check our phone for text messages. But when we slow down and check in with ourselves, we are more in touch with what foods feel healthy to eat, how much of it our bodies really need, and/or why we are eating it.
Mindful eating is not necessarily limited to what we eat – it is also about how we eat, why we eat, when we eat, where we eat and how much we eat. It is also about having a connection with our food. Knowing and appreciating where our food comes from, what has gone into bringing it onto our plates, preparing it with intention and then of course savouring it!
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, there is no point in eating healthy food if the body is unable to absorb the nutrients properly. Being present with your food as opposed to multi-tasking while eating allows the body to focus its attention on digesting and transforming the food into energy. Eating slowly and chewing thoroughly not only facilitates this process, it also allows us to truly savour our food. Researchers have found that being present with the flavour and texture of food and reflecting on the purpose of each bite as we relish it can improve assimilation and help address obesity.
Practicing Mindful Eating can be intimidating so you can start simple. It’s a practice, and sounds relatively easy but can certainly prove to be more of a challenge. It could be as simple as stopping to enjoy a cup of your favourite tea or even just the first few sips of it, and the effects of slowing down for no matter how short a period of time helps to cultivate a healthy practice of self awareness.
Mindful Eating Tips
- Simply eat. Avoid multi-tasking while you’re eating.
- Chew thoroughly. Make sure each bite is well-chewed before swallowing it. Aim for 25-30 bites.
- Quiet. Consider eating in silence, even if it’s just for the first 5 minutes of your meal.
- Routine. Set a particular time aside each week to truly savour a few sips or bites, or a favourite beverage or meal.
- Bon Appetit!
Think about the last meal or snack that you had. Can you describe:
How you ate?
Did you eat slowly?
Were you distracted?
Did you eat with others?
Why you ate?
Were you hungry?
Was it offered to you?
What you ate?
What food and drink did you have?
When you ate?
What time was it?
How long had it been since the last you ate?
Where you ate?
Were you in a space meant for eating?
How much you ate?
How much food and drink did you have?
In support of Men’s health during the month of Movember, we are co-hosting an event with Chef Blair Lebsack, owner of Edmonton’s popular restaurant Rge Rd. Come and join us in learning how to make a mindful meal that is healthy and easy to prepare.
Call to register 780-756-7736
Space is limited!