Who ate my bacon??
One moment some delectable cuisine was staring you in the eyes, and the next: gone, disappeared and you’ve been left dumbfounded as to the whereabouts of your meal.
Have you ever experienced such a phenomenon only to realize “wait… I was the one who ate that...”
Whether you were on your phone, watching TV, or caught up in a heated discussion with a peer, whatever task was at hand took the whole of your attention away from the process of eating your snack or meal.
In today’s day and age, mealtime is often synonymous with phone time. It might be your time to hop on Instagram or catch up on texts. Even though the average American spends two-and-a-half hours a day eating (1), the endless distractions stored on a device right in our pockets have made mindless consumption the norm for many.
I’m here to talk about the opposite end of the spectrum: the rewarding concept of mindful eating, also known as “intuitive eating.”
Intuitive eating is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle habit. Proponents and experts in the nutrition field often call it the “anti-diet diet”. Essentially, intuitive eating is all about being in touch with your body, eating when you’re hungry, and stopping when you are full. Instead of trying to restrict what you can and can’t eat as a diet aims to do, the concept of intuitive eating is about establishing and understanding your relationship with food, your experience with food. At its core, this is a practice that is rooted in mindfulness.
Put your phone aside and turn off the TV. Before you chow down on mom’s famous spaghetti or that decadent Chipotle bowl, pause. Take a moment to feel your body’s hunger. Is there enough food in front of you? Might there be too much?
Try and appreciate what it took to bring the food to the table: the sun, the water, the animals, the farmers, the chefs. Breathe in the presence of those that you can share this meal with.
Now, as you take your first few bites, focus on the sensory experience of eating the food. What do you see? What do you smell?
Close your eyes and chew slowly. What are you tasting? Maybe the complexity of flavors changes as you are chewing. Instead of scarfing down the meal, eat the meal with the patience that it deserves.
This experience might be a grand change from the ways you usually consume a meal, but you stand to gain power over your quality of life.
Studies published through the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have shown that mindful eating leads to “Improved self-esteem, body image, and overall well-being.” Participants were able to achieve weight loss goals that lasted. The key benefit to mindful eating: it is “Process-oriented” rather than “outcome-driven” as diets are. In other words, mindful, intuitive eating is a sustainable lifestyle change! It’s a way of consuming that you can take with you throughout your entire journey of life! Whereas dieting can often take the fun out of eating, intuitive eating only stands to make the eating experience more pleasurable. Take a moment to savor each bite of that bacon, you just might come one step closer to nirvana.