Stop for a moment before you take that bite of food, ask yourself if you know what you are eating and then ask yourself if you really do want to eat it. I suggest if you just slow down enough to think about your food you might just eat less and/or make better choices.Yes there have been studies that show if you actually think more about what you are eating you just might not eat so much or make poor choices. Seems obvious to me but recent research suggests that by being more mindful (in other words aware, attentive, conscious, present and cognizant), you will come to ask yourself: why am I eating this? People often ask me if I miss or feel deprived of not eating certain foods and my response for the most part is “no.” For the simple reason I think about the unhealthy choices, the poor choices or as I like to phrase them the “unfavorables” and that makes them less appetizing. This type of thought process means you need to have knowledge of what food is – Nutrition 101. Stopping to think about your food also means you must not allow yourself to eat when you are desperately hungry; in which situation you are more likely to reach for calorically-dense “bad” foods. Knowledge alone will not stop you from making unfavorable choices because of our emotions. Emotional eating tends to be mindless and automatic. But if you could just stop for a moment and think!
Making good choices nutritionally is not about dieting; it does not about have to about giving up anything; however it is about slowing down. This could be the remedy for a fast-paced society in which an endless parade of new diets never seems to slow down the stampede toward the epidemic of obesity.
In my research for writing this article I discovered that there is a new social trend circulating around out there currently called “mindful-eating”. There are monasteries and retreats all around the world that invite you to stay and eat slowly and with presence. The last few years have brought about a rash of book, blogs and videos about conscious eating. Scores of experiments and scholarly discussions are taking place. Many corporations are using this new trend, recently Google has scheduled the “mindful lunch hour” and naturally Oprah Winfrey is a cheerleader for this new practice. I am in full support of all this but I get guarded and suspicious about the “latest trends”. With the yellow flag waving “trend caution” I do support this one. I like the idea of being mindful of the food choices for your body which is of course the only place you have to live. Thich Nhat Hanh’s suggest the Apple Meditation described in his book with shared author, Dr. Lilan Cheung, (a very “popular” book right now). As he states “take an apple out of your refrigerator. Any apple will do. Wash it. Dry it. Before taking a bite, pause for a moment. Look at the apple in your palm and ask yourself: When I eat an apple, am I really enjoying eating it? Or, am I so pre-occupied with other thoughts that I miss the delights that the apple offers me?” he goes on about living in the moment and really being present for the entire time you are eating this apple. By doing this you come to experience what you are doing and create a new state of awareness.
Mindfulness is not only practices during eating; it can be practiced in all we do. Take a moment at anytime of the day and stop to witness ourselves in action. Apply this to the act of eating and you will find yourself making better choices resulting in the trend of healthy eating.