Cultivating A Mindful Eating Practice.

Meditation and its practical application of it in everyday life, otherwise known as Mindfulness can be applied in all situations of life at all times. Mindfulness is not just for sitting in Lotus position (as relaxing and comfortable as it is), it can also be transferred to have gratitude even within the present moment of eating. These days, people rarely eat as an art form or a spiritual practice, even though it is precisely an art form and a spiritual connected practice. But there is a trend re-growing, bringing back the lost art of conscious cooking, eating and being fully present in the act: Mindful Eating.

Conscious cooking and eating with meditation is the other half of the equation of healthy eating and getting to a true state of healing. In our society it is common place to eat only for socialization, on the road, or in a hurry to get to our next duty.  But when we engage in this type of eating only, it usually leaves us feeling unfulfilled, unsated and can possibly open the doorway for chronic degenerative diseases to find a place in our lives. Eating with the purpose of eating with loved ones for building family and community is in itself a positive thing, especially when it is done with conscious presence. Just like mindful breathing; mindful eating helps to ease the digestive system, helps to absorb more nutrients, and relaxes our mind in the process. But the biggest outcome and benefit to it is we become more grateful for the things we have, for the opportunities we have been given and for the food that is ultimately becoming a part of us. So this may be a lot to take in at one time. Before we go into just exactly what a Mindful Eating practice might look like in your life, we have to talk about its opposite: Mindless Eating.

 Mindless eating is essentially the way it sounds: eating without being present and aware of the whole process. For instance, have you ever sat down at a restaurant to eat, and in no time at all the food is gone from your plate? You have no memory of how it tasted, if it was good, what was on your mind at the time and on top of that you still feel hungry. This is Mindless Eating. But there is another side to this. Besides the fact that most of us have no time for anything anymore, episodes of Mindless Eating can be triggered by our emotions of:  anger, fear, hatred, resentment, guilt, shame, uncertainty and lack of positive self-image. In this stage, we will eat within the pleasure trap of emotions that can have serious consequences on not just our state of mind but on our physical bodies as well.

However on the positive shine to this, is that we have an opportunity to slow down the eating process with Mindful Eating and enjoy the full benefits of the whole process. This is something that our Ancestors, ancient Masters and expanded thinkers have always known; slow down when eating. It was not just for semantics sake, they knew the importance of Mindfulness in the whole process. Mindfulness also has its range of emotions when eating and they are happiness, acceptance, love, openness, being alert, being in control and being focused. The consequence of Mindful Eating has a more positive effect on our minds and bodies. Such as: decreasing anxiety, decreasing depression, helps you eat only when truly hungry, slows the heart rate, improves the ability to relax and helps you distinguish between eating out of habit versus eating with presence.

Is this something that people can really do in this world today? Absolutely. If you are just starting with the practices of Meditation and being present, give yourself time to get used to it manifesting in your life; and the same can be said of Mindful Eating. What I always recommend to individuals and families is to at least try to have at least four meals a week that includes the practice of Mindful Eating; the more you practice it the easier it becomes. You will even be able to do this when in the company of others, in a loud gathering and especially when you are alone. It is all about retraining your mind and unlearning whatever negative emotions associated with food that we have come across in the process.

Cultivating Your Mindful Eating Practice.

For the times that you plan to do a Mindful Eating practice you can follow these simple steps to get acquainted:

  • Make sure all electronic devices (including our phones) that are not absolutely necessary to be in front of you, are not in front of you to distract you.
  • Make the intention to be present, aware and committed to eat your meal with gratitude and full awareness. Make an intention to remember the less fortunate and connect your energy with them.
  • When you are ready to eat, look directly at your food and know that it will become a part of you.
  • Take slow and present bites. Chew your food a minimum of 13 times. When you chew your food past 21 times each you have broken down all of the enzymes and this helps you absorb more nutrients.
  • Try to limit your speech, if you have to even speak at all. If the family is participating, then make it a group effort.
  • Be aware of your breath throughout the whole process. If you find any emotions rising within you, try to seek the source of it and let it pass.
  • And most importantly, know that the whole art of eating is really an art form and that being conscious and aware in all forms of our lives will only help us become more balanced in the long run.

Mindfulness is in reality, none other than being aware of the process of being alive. The depth of understanding this requires more writing than what I have room for here. But know that it is a positive and beneficial place to start. These opportunities are available to all of us and can deeply transform our lives. Mindful Eating, when done with sincerity can help people in all types of situations whether it be with weight issues, emotional entrapment or lack of enjoyment of foods. Now is the time to awaken on all levels, even with the seemingly mundane act of eating. After all, it only gives us the minerals and nutrients that we need. Right? With continued love to you and your families.

Dr. Daud Scott- N.D.; CHNP.

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