Mindful eating is a way to approach the daily ritual of eating with more awareness. If practiced regularly, it can transform our eating and our health. Each day, each meal, we have an opportunity to slow down and notice what we are eating and how it feels in our body. Slowing down, noticing, paying attention, makes it easier to connect with ourselves and our body. This is important personal awareness to cultivate at any time - but mindful eating offers valuable benefits during the preconception period. Studies show that mindfulness practices are very effective in reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and unbalanced eating.
Mindful eating can focus our attention and calm our mind. It is deceptively simple and, at the same time, very, very difficult. It is difficult because we live in a fast culture with many distractions that keep us from ourselves. To slow down can seem excruciating at first, but it is worth persevering. We invite you to try mindful eating – start with just one meal or even for the first few bites each time you eat.
Introduction to a Mindful Eating Practice
- When you sit down at the table, take a deep breath and relax. Check in with your feelings. Notice and observe them.
- Clear away any distractions such as the television, computer, phone, books, and newspapers.
- Notice the food on your plate. Notice the temperature, aroma, colour and arrangement on the plate.
- Appreciate the food, the farmers and all the work involved in bringing this nourishment to you. Find a place of gratitude.
- Start eating slowly. Take one bite of food, put down your fork and chew your food thoughtfully. Become aware of the flavor, pleasure and health that the food is giving you.
- Listen to your body. Notice when you are satisfied or when foods don’t agree with you. Continue to breath. Continue to eat and just notice. Notice when you feel satisfied. Notice when you feel full. What am I really hungry for? How hungry am I? How much do I need to satisfy that hunger? How do I feel when I eat that food? What am I feeling right now? Let the feelings flow through just noticing them.
- Continue eating your meal, resisting the pull to rush through or distract yourself.
- When you are finished eating, pause and take a deep breath. Appreciate yourself for taking care of yourself.
The secret to mindful eating is the daily practice. We invite you to try eating mindfully each day. Start with the first few bites of each meal and then try a mindful meal each day, until it becomes part of your rhythm. Mindfulness practices have been shown to be very effective in helping people manage emotional and unbalanced eating problems, as well as depression and illnesses associated with stress. For more information and support check out the Centre for Mindful Eating.