Living closer to our food source has unexpectedly changed our family’s thoughts about food.
The majority of our meat and produce come from our local farmers because they are closer than the grocery stores. However, that forces us to actually see the animals and gardens that our food comes from.
By having this as our main source for the majority of our family’s food, we now question our choices more in restaurants and grocery stores.
Going the extra steps of raising our own chickens and gardening a small patch of fruit and vegetables has also increased our awareness. We are beginning to practice mindful eating.
Mindful Eating is:
- Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom.
- Using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body.
- Acknowledging responses to food (likes, dislikes, or neutral) without judgment.
- Becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating.
Tips for Beginners
Here’s a few tips to get a practice started:
- Make a simple food choice. Start with a small amount of one simple food, such as grapes.
- Offer your full attention. Allow your senses to become alive: smell the grape, notice its contours, shape, colors, how it feels in your palm, between your fingers.
- Be mindful of thoughts and feelings. Let the thoughts come and let them go, such as a feeling of disappointment: “It’s only a grape, not a brownie.”
- Notice flavors come and go. Notice the flavor, the juice, and the different layers of taste.
- The power of choice. As you become more attuned to tasting and mindfully recognizing the value of food, it helps us see that we have choices.
The STOP Approach
Now that we are starting to consciously become more mindful about what we eat, we are using the STOP method.
There are a wide range of benefits from practicing mindful eating.
One study shows that eating mindfully, choosing and savoring food away from the distractions of computers and televisions, can help people lose weight.
A few more benefits include:
- It might help prevent type 2 diabetes. According to a study, people with type 2 diabetes were more likely to be fast eaters than people without the condition. Fast eating has been linked to weight gain in previous studies, and this may be the link that contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes.
- It can be a useful tool in helping overweight pre-teens. Binge eating is becoming a concern with more adults, but it is a serious concern for adolescents.
- It can help decrease excessive snacking. Many people multi-task while eating lunch, but studies show when people focused on their lunchtime meal rather than simultaneously reading a newspaper or watching TV, they were less hungry at snack-time, and opted for a smaller snack.
Someone who eats mindfully:
- Acknowledges that there is no right or wrong way to eat but varying degrees of awareness surrounding the experience of food.
- Accepts that their eating experiences are unique.
- Is an individual who by choice, directs their attention to eating on a moment-by-moment basis.
- Gains awareness of how they can make choices that support health and well-being.
- Becomes aware of the interconnection of earth, living beings, cultural practices and the impact of their food choices on those systems.
Practicing mindful eating will change your perspective from not paying attention to your food to being more aware of your choices. Are you ready to start your mindful eating practice?
Crystal Gibson is a wife and mother of two from Cleveland, Ohio whose interest in women’s empowerment comes from her personal experiences, raising her daughter and navigating corporate America for over a decade. She is passionate about simple living, mindfulness & meditation, gratitude, and raising strong daughters. Her goal is to write about these ideas to help women and girls with their journey – figuring out who they are and what they represent to the world. When she is not writing, she can be found gardening, crafting and spending time with her family.