The benefits of Mindful Eating
Why not take food to another level? Why not elevate it to the limits of the mind? Why not turn a dish into a whole experience? This is what mindful eating proposes.
It is a practice that has its origin in Zen Buddhism and is famous for its relaxing power and as a great way to help change eating behaviours. Thus, mindful eating is being incorporated into programs to vary bad routines along with one’s own recommended dietary behaviour changes.
“Mindful eating is becoming more aware of the foods we eat and our eating habits. It is observing, rather than judging, how food and drink make you feel. It is also learning to be calm and to feel the moment. Then you can fully receive the signals your body is telling you about taste, satisfaction and fulfilment,” explains Melanie Waxman, Nutrition Expert at SHA Wellness Clinic.
The most important thing is to eat relaxed. This translates into breathing, gaining awareness, focusing on sensation, creating the right environment for eating, knowing how to manage our time, being aware of the parts of ourselves that we are bringing to the table…
A new relationship with food
We must sit at the table fully aware of the experience we are about to live, breathing slowly and focused, without our attention being scattered on other thoughts or observations.
“It’s about chewing well on each bite and seeing how it makes us feel—enjoying the visual aspect of the dish, the aromas, the textures, the sounds, the touch, the taste, choosing quality ingredients that come directly from the earth rather than being processed in a factory. Appreciating what we eat and recognizing the value of food,” says Melanie Waxman.
The very concept of “mindfulness” already tells us what the basis is for a term that has its origin in mindfulness, full consciousness. It proposes a new relationship with food by adding a mental aspect, to feel each of the processes involved in eating: from the preparation of the dish to its satiating power.
“We express gratitude and love for all the aspects involved in the process, all the stages of growth of the ingredients in the sun, rain, wind, soil, birds, insects… And for all the care the chef has taken in preparing the food“, adds the SHA Wellness Clinic expert.
Careful product selection
Conscious eating includes a deep reverence for our natural world and seeks to use local, seasonal and organic foods as much as possible. The quality of the food is valued.
“SHA Wellness Clinic has created the most beautiful environment for enjoying meals. We also encourage guests to eat slowly, breathe deeply, feel at ease and develop lasting pleasure around the dining experience,” explains Melanie Waxman.
Mindful eating can teach us to eat in a relaxed state rather than under stress. Even if we eat the healthiest foods, devouring them can create a state of anxiety that affects how we digest, absorb and burn calories.
“Slow and relaxed eating increases the feeling of pleasure. We can enjoy the mealtime experience more fully and feel nourished and calm. Conscious eating helps reduce calories and lose weight. It’s empowering because you are in control of your food intake,” says Melanie Waxman.
Conscious eating and its many benefits
The benefits of mindful eating are multiple: it reduces stress, increases the enjoyment of food, facilitates digestion, reduces calories, helps you lose weight, you don’t feel heavy and bloated, you control the food instead of it controlling you, you enjoy the moment, you don’t have anxiety about eating.
“Mindful eating is a practice that requires a commitment to behaviour change similar to that required for any diet or eating plan. At the core of a diet is the need to pay attention,” suggested a recent paper by the American Diabetes Association.
It is important to reiterate that the primary benefit of conscious eating is not weight loss. However, people who engage in its practice will likely lose weight or stay away from obesity.
“Conscious eating encourages us to trust our own decisions rather than being restricted by rules about what and when to eat. Mindfulness encourages practitioners to live fully in every moment and appreciate their life as it is,” added the paper.
It is never too late to eat better, to bring it to a full experience than a body and mind. “We can all benefit from a relaxed diet, and it’s great to teach young children this simple routine,” summarized Melanie Waxman.