Ever heard of raisin meditation?
Place a raisin in the palm of your hand. Now observe the raisin as if it’s the first time you have seen it; explore its every detail. Now begin to touch the surface of the raisin, exploring its texture before you eat it.
Sound a little crazy? Trust us, raisin meditation IS a real thing—but we have easier (and more widely useful) ways to stay present and enjoy your food during meal times.
First, let’s learn some more about mindfulness and what it really means.
What Is Mindful Eating?
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not be overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Enjoying the moment and developing control over your food are just some of the benefits of practising mindful eating.
You can be mindful right now! It’s not something that you have to conjure up—every human being can access mindfulness, you just have to learn how.
How To Become More Mindful When Eating
When we think of mindfulness, an image of a stoic, spiritual person meditating for hours may come to mind. While mindfulness meditation has roots that go back 2,500 years, its basic principles can be applied to other activities in our lives.
Contrary to popular belief, meditating isn’t about clearing our minds of thoughts and not thinking. It’s a mental state that involves being entirely focused on "the now" so you can acknowledge and accept your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment. When a thought comes along, you observe it with judgement-free curiosity and then resume focusing on your breath.
This concept is also useful while eating. Instead of using your breath as your anchor, you remain present with your food.
But while awake, there’s more than our thoughts to distract us. Our busy lives present a variety of stimuli that draw us away from the present.
Read on to learn mindfulness techniques to use while eating and how they will benefit you.
1. Eliminate Distractions
Many people enjoy entertainment with their meals and like to eat in front of their favorite show or movie. If you’re honest with yourself, you likely spend more time looking for something to watch than you do eating (don’t worry—us too).
This multitasking while eating is a recipe for mindless eating. It can create a disconnect between you and your food, leading to overeating, not recognizing your body’s signals, and not fully enjoying your meal.
Practise the following steps to prevent mindless eating:
- Eat at the dinner table and not on the couch.
- Turn off the TV and make the food the main focus while you eat.
- Don’t use your phone or other electronics during mealtimes.
The Payoff: Eliminating distractions encourages a positive and healthy relationship with food. It helps you stay in tune with your body so you can listen to its signals telling you it’s still hungry or full. You will become more aware of why you’re turning to food, such as when you’re not hungry, which curbs mindless eating.
2. Take It Slow
When you’re eating your favorite food, sometimes you just want to wolf it down all in one go. It’s taco night, so why eat two when you can go full fiesta-mode and have six? This approach results in the inevitable slide into the couch potato zone, featuring a stomachache and a vow never to touch hot sauce again.
Mindful eating can help you enjoy the taste of your food without making you feel like you’re missing out.
When you slow down to eat, you get the chance to really taste the food. It means that your meal lasts longer, and your body has time to process the food. You won’t have the urge to pile on the extra portions because you will start to feel full.
Try out the following tips to take it slow:
- Put your fork down between bites and savour each bite.
- Take small bites and cut your food into smaller portions.
- Count 25 bites while eating to break down your food fully.
- Extend each meal to last at least 15-20 minutes.
The Payoff: You will feel more satisfied with each meal and avoid overeating. Your digestion system will thank you for processing food better, and you won’t experience bloating, indigestion, or other gastrointestinal issues.
3. Know Your Food
All our food comes from the grocery store, right?
Well, that’s not wrong, but it’s not entirely right, either.
Our food goes through a complex process to get from farm to fork that we often don’t think about. The food supply chain is a multi-step process that includes: production, distribution, processing, marketing, purchasing, preparation, consumption, and waste recovery. Taking the time to consider where our food comes from and what we’re putting in our bodies can make us more appreciative.
Use the following methods to become more food aware:
- Read labels to find out where packaged food is produced.
- Learn what barcode numbers mean to determine the origin of fresh foods.
- Get a green thumb and grow your favorite fruits and veggies.
- Read ingredients lists so you know what you’re consuming.
- Buy locally grown foods.
Knowing your ingredients and where your food is coming from is one of the best ways to become mindful of your food. Typically, the more raw ingredients and the less confusing gibberish words on a label, the better.
Pulp & Press transparently displays all nutritional facts and ingredients that go into our organic cold-pressed juices. Made with simple and pure ingredients, we make it easy to choose nutritious good-for-you options mindfully.
The Payoff: Mindful food choices make it easier to be healthy. You will feel good knowing what you’re eating is helping power your body. Understanding where your food comes from encourages you to buy and eat locally and feel grateful for the ability to nourish yourself.
4. Make It An Event
We lead busy lives, and it can be all too convenient to hit up a drive-thru window and munch down food with one hand and drive with the other. The problem is that this type of meal is usually not healthy, satisfying, or safe (keep two hands on the wheel).
When eating becomes a drive-by experience, you don’t fully enjoy and pay attention to our food, leaving you feeling hungry and eating more later.
Make meal-time an event by using these tips:
- Eat at the kitchen table to be fully immersed in the meal.
- Intentionally set the table, put out some condiments, and decorate the table with a candle or flowers for an extra special feeling.
- Plan a set meal time so the whole family can be together.
The Payoff: Mealtimes will transform into moments where you and your family can de-stress and slow down after a busy day. Gathering together at the dinner table is a chance to connect and bond over a delicious meal. Being present with your food is a chance to be present with people.
5. Prepare Meaningfully
As you scan the instructions on a TV dinner box, you read that you can have food ready in under 3 minutes. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Wrong!
First off, anything pre-packaged that’s made in the same time as it takes to read the instructions is not going to be good for you.
Food is one of the greatest pleasures in life—so instead of hurrying for it to be over, indulge in the whole experience. Choose to be present for the entire process of making your meal come to life. When you meaningfully engage with every step, you’ll appreciate your food more, you’ll savor each bite, and you’ll feel proud of the choices you have made.
Use these techniques to plan for more meaningful meals:
- Select a new recipe that you’re excited to make and taste.
- Use the ingredients you already have and only buy the essentials.
- Involve friends and family in the preparation of the meal.
The Payoff: When you’re involved intentionally in the entire meal preparation process, you focus on your food a lot more. When you’re eating your creation, you thoroughly enjoy your efforts. Mindful preparation makes all of our other steps fall into place.
Let the Mindfulness Flow
All of these steps can be used together, but you’ll find that being mindful in one way makes it easier to be mindful in other ways too. Mindfulness has a way of flowing from one part of your life to another. Once you see the benefits of mindful eating, you’ll start to see how being present enables you to get more out of all aspects of your life.