You’ve probably heard the word, “mindful” in connection with meditation, thought processes and other concepts, but not eating. This concept, rooted in Buddhism, aims to help you eat in a healthier and more enjoyable way by fostering benefits you probably didn’t even realize were available.
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The act of eating is something we regard as a basic human function, only needed to survive, yet it’s more than that. Eating might help you share cultures, experiences, memories and even emotions with other people.
Those monthly dinners out with friends or family members or co-workers help you cement your old bonds and sometimes forge new ones. By using the six tips below for more mindful eating, you can reap all the health and mood boosts that come with a little mastication!
Focus On Eating
In today’s society, we’re constantly trying to do multiple things at the same time, and this extends to eating. If you’ve ever been out at a restaurant and whipped out a cellphone or had a companion do it, you’re part of an increasing trend of multitasking at the table.
But this divided attention can cause you to overeat, make poorer food choices and miss out on some social time. Stick to eating when you’re doing it, and nothing else.
Try To Chew
Another casualty of our “on the go” mentality is faster chewing. Properly chew food to enjoy the taste and for proper digestion. According to WebMD, chewing more slowly can help you eat less because it boosts your feelings of satisfaction, so try to do it more slowly whenever possible.
If you find yourself speeding, back up and take a brief break from eating to get yourself back into a slower groove. This may take some time, especially if you’ve got into the habit of inhaling your meals, so be patient with yourself and make sure you pay attention to how you’re eating.
Indulge Your Senses
Eating isn’t just about what you taste. Pay attention to the sight, sound and scent of the food for a more complete experience. Think about the food texture, what you like about it and what you would change.
Go beyond the surface taste and allow yourself to check for different notes and ingredients. Your observance of these details can even be a conversation topic if you’re with others, connecting you to both the eating experience and the people you’re sharing it with at the same time.
Look For Quality
Quality over quantity is a definite must when it comes to your food, despite the ever-ballooning portion sizes we see at restaurants. But more doesn’t mean better, and we’ve all had that giant restaurant plate that turned out to be barely edible.
Be selective when it comes to your food, looking for items that both meet nutritional requirements and delight your taste buds. While it may be tempting to go for inferior food at lower prices for a larger amount, try to stick to the higher quality foods instead, as your budget allows.
Create Some Meals
If you’re a lover of takeout, that’s totally understandable. It tastes great, and there are healthier takeout options available now than ever before. But you’re missing out on the experience of creating and eating food you’ve made yourself.
Making a meal with other people is another great way to spend some time connecting to others and the food you’re going to be sampling. Start experimenting in the kitchen if you’re not doing so now, or make some more time for it if you love cooking but have fallen into the habit of ordering out.
Some chefs view cooking as an art form or science all of its own, so don’t be afraid to try some new things when you’re preparing your meals. You may just be surprised at what you’re able to create right in your own kitchen!
Don’t Forget Gratitude
Whether you’re eating food you made or eating out somewhere, don’t forget to pass along some gratitude to the maker and your dining partners. Being able to eat and afford enough food to meet your needs as a human being is a privilege that is not universal.
A little bit of gratitude makes everyone else feel a bit better, and it allows for some important self-reflection. And being thankful for food and the experiences it offers you is a wonderful mood booster, as it is a way to remind yourself of how lucky you are to be able to enjoy it!