Mindfulness is the new buzz word, defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment. As a nutritional therapist and yoga teacher specialising in stress management programmes, it is something I spend a lot of time working on with clients, both on and off the mat, and on and off the dinner table!
Meal times can be a stressful time for many, and can lead to unhealthy food choices, over eating, and eating too quickly. Over time this can contribute to weight gain, digestive issues and binge eating.
One tool I have found particularly useful to help support clients out of these cycles, is a mindful eating exercise.
Take five minutes before each meal time to go through the following questions, possibly using a journal to jot down any reflections that come up for you. If possible, try to take your meal away from distractions such as a computer, phone or T.V.
- Take a moment to close your eyes and think about how hungry you are – are you even hungry? Rate your hunger from 1 to 10.
- Where do you feel hunger? What part of you is hungry?
- What are you hungry for?
- What food do you want to nourish your body with?
- Say a prayer of gratitude for the meal that you have before you. I like the Buddhist Meal Gatha:
“We receive this food in gratitude to all beings,
Who have helped to bring it to our table,
And vow to respond to those in need,
With wisdom and compassion.”
- Open your eyes and enjoy your meal, taking time to chew properly, and try to extend your meal time to 15 minutes. Take time to sit and reflect how the meal has served you and try not to run off straight away, but continue moving mindfully into the rest of your day.