Be the change you wish to see in the world...

- Gandhi

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Gift of Mindful Eating

In my effort to live the good life, I am really trying to slow down and appreciate the small things in life. If you've been reading along with me the past few weeks, you know that I am moving towards simple abundance, less is more, and a more peaceful, calm way of life.  Appreciating the little things is such an easy thing to do, but requires focus, concentration and discipline.  For a type A, multi-tasker like me, slowing down and staying present in the moment is tough.  I decided to start with my food.  

I teach a nutrition class to my eldest daughter's fourth grade class.  Every class ends with a food sample that we eat mindfully.  Before gulping down the healthy treat, we take it in with all of our senses.  First, we look at it and appreciate the color and shape of it.  We think about how it was grown and what it might have gone through to get to our plates.  We express gratitude.  Next, we smell it and enjoy the mixture of aromas it might have.  Then, we touch it and feel its textures.  Last, we take a small bite and really savor the taste of the food.  We take notice of how the flavors and textures might change as we chew 6-10 times before swallowing. 

I love this exercise and decided why can't I do this for myself, for all of my meals?  Just slow it down.  Take it in and savor.  How many times have you rushed lunch at your desk or shoved something down your throat as you were running out the door to an appointment?  If you are like me, too many times to count.  How can we possibly appreciate the food we are eating if that is the way we are ingesting it?  Food is such a wonderful, easy way to show some self love, if we could just slow down to taste it.  I put so much thought and work into what I feed my body, that I should enjoy it and really appreciate it.  

I started slowing down and giving myself this gift of mindfulness.  It is really nice, guys and gals.  Aside from the attention and notice to the bounty and flavors on my plate, I find I am taking in the social aspect of the meals with the others at the table at an enhanced level.  I am also eating less (bonus!) because I am taking notice of how full I am instead of just gulping down whatever is on my plate so I can get to the next thing.

I have also started a nice ritual every night - a hot cup of tea and two squares of dark chocolate.  I savor that chocolate slowly as I sip my tea and just let my body relax.  I can literally feel my muscles unwind and my body exhale as I chew my chocolate and wash it down with a sip of herbal goodness.  It is truly a wonderful close to the day.

Challenge yourself to be more mindful of how you eat today.  It's not just what you eat, but how you do it.