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The art of mindful eating

| JAN 12, 2017

Eating is something you do several times a day.  Maybe you think a great deal about how you can be healthy and fit, including the optimal exercise routine, the newest super food to eat and the healthiest ways of preparing your meals (raw, juicing, fermenting, etc.) or quitting certain foods like sugar altogether.

You may think about what you eat, how much you eat (e.g. 5:2 diet), how often you eat (3x, 5x, 7x), the best times to eat (not before 11am and after 7pm) but you probably hardly ever think about how you eat.

But in order to live a healthy and balanced life, it’s not enough to change what you do, you also need to change how you do it.


Photograph by Jose Martin. 

We’re living in a time where “are you busy?” has become the new “how are you?” and feeling stressed is a constant companion for most of us.  Many of us eat on the go, or at our desks while having a conference call and checking emails at the same time.

The problem is when you eat on the go or stressed at your desk, your body is pumped with cortisol and you put on weight in the form of unhealthy belly fat despite the healthiest food choices.

If you’re distracted while eating it’s very easy to overeat, as you’re not aware of what your stomach tells you. 

Stress is also one of the reasons why it’s so hard for you to change your eating habits.  When you want to change a habit, you usually make a conscious decision with your Executive Brain.  It makes logical sense for you to quit sugar, as you intellectually understand it’s unhealthy for you.  Your Executive Brain is also responsible for impulse control.  The problem is, when you feel stressed or are under pressure, your Executive Brain is also the part of the brain that goes off-line as it gets hijacked by your reptilian brain.  You go into a fight-flight-freeze mode and in that moment you fall back into old unconscious habits. As such it’s crucial to strengthen your Executive Brain through meditation (see last week’s post).

Another cause linked to overeating is distraction.  It’s fairly common to eat while sitting in front of your computer, checking your phone or reading.  If you’re distracted while eating it’s very easy to overeat, as you’re not aware of what your stomach tells you.  In addition, you’re also not properly tasting the food.  As a result, you don’t get a feeling of satisfaction and will probably have a second or third piece of chocolate instead of being satisfied with just one.

Bringing your full attention to the quality of how you eat can radically change your experience and increase your level of satisfaction after a meal.  When you eat, just eat and really chew and taste your food.  By focusing your awareness on the diversity of ingredients, their texture and taste, you’ll start to connect with food differently, nourishing your body, mind and heart.

Try mindful eating by listening to this five-minute recording; all you need is to find a relaxed seated posture and a raisin.

Palma is a life coach specialising in mindful living. Read more from Palma in her book ‘The Authority Guide To Mindful Leadership’. 

Main photograph by Julien Pianetti. 

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