Mindful eating has nothing to do with sitting in lotus position while devouring a raw sprouted vegan burger and sipping on the milk of a hindu unicorn. Nor is it measured by your devotion to a spiritual practice or how many hours you dedicate to yoga each week, writes health and wellness blogger Jordanna Levin...
Having a “healthy” diet, and having a healthy relationship with food are two very different things. The latter is at the soul of mindful eating.
“Eating well” is an overwhelming experience (even when it’s your profession).
There are so many diets, so many differing opinions, so many intolerances and allergies and superfoods and food combining methods and… well, the list just goes on and on. What’s meant to be a soul and body nourishing activity becomes very stressful, regimented, exhausting, frustrating, and soon becomes detrimental to our health, no matter how much steamed broccoli we’re eating and organic kale we’re juicing.
Mindful eating is a tried and true method for taking the stress, guilt and anxiety off the dinner table. Here are a few ways to practice mindful eating:
Many of us sit down to eat not sure if we really want to be there at all. We have a fork in one hand and our phones in the other while watching The Block and thinking about tomorrow’s 9am meeting. I’m guilty of eating lunch at my desk while replying to emails, and I know a bunch of you don’t even sit down to eat, or eat mindlessly while preparing dinner so by the time you serve it up you’re not hungry anymore. Taking the time to sit down and be present with your food is the first and perhaps most important step to eating mindfully.
Nobody knows your body better than you. What works for one person isn’t going to work for another. And what works for you now might not work for you in a few weeks time. So how the hell do you work out what to eat? Well, you listen to your body, it won’t lead you astray.
Are you a mindless eater? Do you eat because you’re hungry? To fuel your body with energy? To nourish your body with nutrients? Or because the clock says it’s a meal time? Having a clear intention behind why you’re eating and what you’re eating, shines a revolutionary light on mealtimes.
Guilt is a food group all of its own and it’s the only one I believe everyone should remove from their diet.
If two people are eating the piece of chocolate cake but one approaches it with shame, guilt and judgement while the other enjoys every mouthful, savouring the sweetness and being captivated by the decadence who do you think is going to come out of the situation better off? They’ve both eaten it, that bit can’t be changed, but the stressed out one has raised their cortisol levels from the stress of the experience which puts the body into fat storage mode, while the other has immersed themselves in the joy of the experience and then moved on.
Take each day as it comes. Just because you feel vibrant and energised from eating a plant based diet this week doesn’t mean you’re going to feel the same next week. Emotions and seasons also play a large part in this. Be open to your internal processes and external environments and know that this will shift day to day.
Eat like you're being timed? Slow down and savour each mouthfu. lt will not only increase the pleasure of eating, but it will also allow you to digest your food properly and recognise when you’re full.
My clients have made mindful eating a priority as part of improving their health, and every single one of them (including myself) has noticed monumental shifts in their approach to food. I encourage you to take a closer look at how healthy your relationship to food is and whether you could do with a little more mindfulness at your next meal.
Guest post by Jordanna Levin, holistic health coach and wellness blogger. Interested in more articles like this? Check out The Inspired Table blog. Keen to work with Jordanna to improve your relationship with food? Check out her consulting packages.