Mindful Eating: a healthier relationship with food

‘There’s no love sincerer than the love of food.’
– George Bernard Shaw

What is food to you?

  • just a way to sustain yourself?
  • something that brings you comfort when you’re stressed or sad?
  • something you hate because it makes you fat?
  • something you avoid because you want to lose weight?

I had the chance to grow up in the South East of France eating lots of tomatoes, olive oil, fish. We had long family dinners where food was celebrated. From my younger years, I’ve kept a love for simple and fresh tastes.

For me, food is a way to sustain myself but … good food is something I love, something I want to share, something I spend time savouring. You know, when you put quality food in your mouth, close your eyes and just let all your taste buds take it in … mummmmh!!!

It’s something worth waiting for with anticipation.

What pleasure!

Does it mean I eat more? … no. I prefer quality to quantity.
Does it mean I eat all the time? … no. I don’t like grazing much.
Does it mean I’m fat? … no. Just normal.

The Love of Good Food

In France, we call it ‘l’amour de la bonne chaire’. Literally, you’d translate it as ‘love of good food’ but the closest I’ve seen it explained is: Mindful Eating. Because that’s what it is: mindfulness applied to food. Mindfulness (see our related article which tells you more about how to be mindful) is a form of meditation that helps focus our attention and awareness on what we’re doing at that precise moment (be it washing the dishes, mowing the lawn, playing with your kids, eating food, …). By doing so, you forget about your worries and fully engage in your present occupation. You live the moment to the full.

So What is Mindful Eating?

Imagine applying mindfulness to eating food.

  • The first thing that happens is that you forget everything else and give your body a rest from all sorts of stress from your daily life. When you’re stressed, secondary functions such as digestion are slowed down. If you manage to keep stress at bay while eating you digestion will improve.
  • Then, you start focusing your attention on what it is that you are eating. The colours, the shapes, the smells. If the food is something you enjoy, you will start salivating in anticipation (which further helps the digestion process).
  • Now, take your time. Pick some food, a small spoonful will do and bring it to your mouth. Enjoy the different tastes (try and guess the ingredients or forget about them and just enjoy the overall sensation). Enjoy the textures. Start chewing, slowly.
    Take your time. Put your fork/spoon down and savour the present mouthful until it’s all swallowed down.
    It’s not a competition nor a race to finish first. You want the moment to last.
    Continue eating mouthful after mouthful, enjoying each one. But do pay attention to your body. Are you feeling full? If you are, stop eating. Being mindful of your body will help you reassess what the right portion for you is (see our article about making sure you are eating the right food portion sizes). By doing so, you will eat just what you body needs.

… and it’s as Easy as That!

There you have it, a mindful, pleasurable experience with so many added benefits for your health (improved digestion, eating just the right amount, creating a new healthy relationship with food).

You don’t have to come from the South of France to do it, you can start tonight!

Cook some food you really enjoy. You don’t have to spend too much money on it but buying good ingredients will help produce better food that you will enjoy more (however, if you stick to Mindful Eating, you’ll slowly learn about portions and you’ll see that, in the end, you need to buy less food – quality replacing quantity).

Try and be mindful as you’re cooking the food too, which will also make the preparation more enjoyable. Then, sit down, on your own or with someone to share the moment, take your time, savour each mouthful, talk about it.

People who love food love to talk about food. They are curious to share, to learn and to savour what they are eating. How was it cooked? What are the ingredients? How did you get the texture like that? Where does it come from?

Try it today. We hope you like it and stick to it because, with Mindful Eating, you’ll learn to love food the way it should be and you’ll be much happier and healthier for it.

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