3 Tips to bring mindfulness to your meals
If you are anything like me you spend the majority of your time each day planning for the next week, the next day, and often the next hour of your life. Rarely do I take the time to sit and be present in the moment. This simple practice almost seems like a forbidden luxury, something I almost never afford myself. Even though it costs nothing and has an enormous impact on my sense of well being, it always seems too far a stretch and too costly in precious time to fit into my daily schedule.
I recently came across the word “mindfulness”. and how much joy can be found when you take time to appreciate the present moment without planning for the future or reflecting on the past. For someone so focused on their health I see that I am neglecting perhaps one of the most important aspects of truly “good” health – my soul.
One of the elements of mindfulness that spoke to me the most was eating with purpose. How often do we rush through a meal, only halfheartedly paying attention to what we are putting into our bodies while we return emails, watch TV or rush around gathering things before we head out the door for the day? I am guilty of this more than half the time, and I am a trained chef and self-proclaimed “foodie” –someone who seriously LOVES food. Why is it it then, that I am happy to put so much time and care into preparing the food but always rush through eating it? Since being introduced to the concept of "mindful eating" I have decided to try and practice this twice a day. Breakfast and dinner are the most practical for me and perhaps the most beneficial because they will help begin and end the day with more focus and peace.
Here are three easy ways to slow down and experience the true purpose of eating, “to eat”…
1. Purposeful Breathing: When eating a meal in mindfulness, we must first quiet everything outside of ourselves and our immediate company. TV is off, phones and electronic devices are placed in the other room (out of site, out of mind) and we work together for 5 minutes setting the table, finishing the meal and sitting down. When the food is on the table and everyone is seated we practice breathing: “breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.” Repeat this three times.
2. Purposeful Smiling: "Sitting at the table with others, we have the chance to offer an authentic smile of friendship and understanding." This seems so simple it is almost silly, but think how powerful a genuine smile can be. So many families rush through their day, loving each other but only from a distance, rarely taking the time to really connect. For me, this may be the most important of the three practices!
3. Purposeful Eating: “After breathing and smiling, we look down at the food in a way that allows the food to become real. Each bite contains the life of the sun and the earth. We can see and taste the whole universe in a piece of bread!” As a trainer and chef, someone who spends half her adult life handling food and transforming it from its raw state, it is shocking how little I really “see” and appreciate the food I am consuming. Modern supermarkets have done a fabulous job of giving us all food amnesia. There are children who honestly think vegetables come from a package in the freezer section (or worse a can) and no one really wants to think about the freighting origins of their chicken sandwich! Never mind these larger issues (this will obviously be a topic for another post), for now, simply take a moment to reflect on the food you are consuming and thank those responsible for bringing it to you!
“Having the opportunity to sit with our family and friends (or even by ourselves) and enjoy wonderful food is something precious, something not everyone has.” Deep down I know that I am fortunate to live where I do – never having to experience a day of hunger in my life, but in my hectic life (and mind) I do not spend enough time being truly thankful. “Mindful eating can cultivate a seed of compassion and understanding that will strengthen us” and perhaps compel us to do something to help those less fortunate.
Mindfulness, I just LOVE that word and I’m so excited to be sharing this lovely concept with you all! It is a simple word with so much meaning. The perfect reminder of how wonderful life is if you just slow down long enough to actually be present in it. I am excited to begin integrating this practice into my healthy lifestyle! Join me on the 5 day mindful meal challenge https://www.mindfulmealchallenge.com/ and share your thoughts or experiences on the subject below in the comments!
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