I see a lot of people ‘woof’ down their food as if they’re about to have their meal taken away from them. I used to be one of them, and I was for a very long time. Other things always got in the way so even though I loved to eat (and still do), I always ‘squeezed in’ eating around all of my other commitments.

Eating this way meant that I wasn’t mindful. I wasn’t mindful of how much I was eating throughout the day, what exactly I was eating, the quality of the food I was eating, how much I was chewing the food, and even what I was tasting.

When I began to change to a healthier eating lifestyle, my focus also shifted because I was conscious of eating healthier. Not only did I become aware of what I was eating, I gained awareness in other ways. I was able to reconnect with my body’s signals – such as ‘true’ physical hunger as opposed to emotional eating or eating just because the food was there. It also meant knowing when I was full so that I would stop eating.

I was able to reconnect with my senses. I paid attention to the whole process of eating such as the smell of the food, the way it looked, and the texture and taste as I chewed. I was able to slow down, savour it and be grateful for all of these senses that helped me to tune in and be in the moment. This whole process left me feeling empowered.

I’d like to share some tips on how you can eat mindfully:

– Ask yourself why you want to eat. Is it because you’re really hungry, or are you emotional eating, or eating just because the food is there?

– Switch off the TV and computer. Sit down at the table to eat.

– Be grateful for the food in front of you. Honour the process it took for the food to reach your plate, from the growing of the food, to the people it took to make it possible for the food to reach your plate.

– Use your senses: notice how the food looks (the colours and shapes), how it smells, how it sounds as you cut and chew it, the texture, and the flavour. Experience each bite.

– Observe how fast you’re eating. Slow down and be fully present with the meal in front of you.

– Observe your thoughts whilst eating. Negative thoughts can trigger overeating, and can also negatively impact your body’s ability to digest food properly.

– Digestion should start in the mouth, so chew your food at least 20 times before swallowing.

These tips, when practised, can help us to gain a deeper appreciation, respect and pleasure of the food we eat, as well as paving the way to a path of better health.

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