Mindful Eating - Are You Getting Enough Vitamin M?

Woman cutting vegetables. Image: Pexels - Ron Lach

I sat down to eat my breakfast — scrambled eggs with shredded zucchini and a grapefruit. While I was eating the eggs, my mind instantly went to the past and remembered the times my Dad would make weekend breakfasts for us and I was always impressed at how he would time the eggs and toast to be done at the exact same time. Then, my mind went to the future as I thought about an email I needed to send. When I caught myself and came back to the present, my eggs were gone and I realized I had no connection to eating them. It’s a good thing I had the grapefruit so I could try this “mindful eating” thing again!

With the grapefruit, I focused. I slowed down, I focused on the color, I thought about the nutrients I was receiving, I noticed how I scooped each piece out, I enjoyed sharing it with my son, I focused on how it tasted, the refreshing citrus smell, and how I felt eating it. I was fully present with the grapefruit for a few moments and realized I had just given myself a healthy dose of Vitamin M — mindfulness.

Where does your mind go while you are eating?

Eating mindfully reminds me of meditation. The goal is to quiet the mind and be present, but it can be very challenging to do. When I was learning about Meditation, I was taught to be a witness to your thoughts. Notice them, acknowledge them and bring yourself right back to where you are. When it comes to mindful eating, the principle and practice is the same.

The more you focus on the act and experience of eating, the more your mind will stay present and focused on what you are doing. Simply by bringing your senses to the table you bring yourself to the table. When we are mindful of what and how we are eating, we become more connected to how our food makes us feel. The more we eat with our head, the less input we have from the brilliance of the body. Mindfulness gives us feedback to let us know when we are full, satisfied, and nourished.

Mindful eating is a daily awareness and practice. It helps us to slow down, it is better for digestion and metabolism and it also increases nutrient absorption. Mindful eating naturally regulates our appetite — that’s right, no need to weigh and measure your food anymore, just be mindful and you will prevent overeating. If you are someone who always goes for seconds and third helpings, you may find that by slowing down and bringing more presence to your meal, you will naturally eat less.

Cutting into pancakes for breakfast

When we eat mindfully, we also have an opportunity to connect with ourselves, to come back ‘home’ for a little while, land in our body and simply enjoy the eating experience. While eating, if your mind visits the past, or jumps to the future, catch it, and bring yourself back to your meal, where you can find stillness, presence, enjoyment and nourishment. You will receive so much more benefit from your food when you practice eating mindfully.

Presence in the Kitchen

Your kitchen can be a perfect opportunity to practice presence and mindfulness. Stressful, fast-paced, and hectic days are part of our lives, but the kitchen and cooking can be a wonderful place to slow down, breathe, focus, and practice mindfulness which is the act of being present. Mindful cooking and eating is a key ingredient to nourishing yourself and optimizing your nutritional lifestyle.

7 tips to help you infuse more Vitamin M in the kitchen 

1. Set the mood in your kitchen

Prior to cooking or preparing a meal, light some candles, diffuse some Certified Pure, Therapeutic Grade essential oils, boil a pot of cinnamon sticks and cloves that will infuse your kitchen with a scent that brings calm, grounding and makes you feel welcome, warm, comforted and at home in your own kitchen. Turn off the television and turn on relaxing music or choose silence. Make your kitchen a place where you want to spend time and hang out in.

2. Turn off your cell phone

Make your kitchen a cell-free zone. Texting and cooking (and eating) do not belong together! It is completely distracting and having it on and hearing it go off every time you have a message instantly takes you out of your presence, makes you feel scattered and unfocused. How many times have you tried to cook something and have forgotten what you were doing because you checked your phone while in the process of preparing a meal? No more cell phones in the kitchen!

3. Enjoy the silence

If you are solo in your kitchen then enjoy the silence and time with yourself. If you enjoy having others around, invite your kids or partner to help or to sit at the counter or table and talk about the day.

Chopping vegetables

4. Focus on what you are doing

Be very present with each step of your cooking. Cut, boil, chop, mix, season, stir, prepare and wash with presence. Be in the experience of cooking.

5. Find a recipe you would like to try

Recipes help you to be present since you have to follow it step-by-step and be methodical.

6. Slow down

Bring some slowness to what you are doing. Even if you don’t have a lot of time to cook, still try to sprinkle some slow into the time you do have. Rushing and being stressed while you are preparing a meal doesn’t make your meal taste great and takes away from the nourishment of the meal.

7. Eat with presence

Look at your food (not your phone!), taste it, smell it, chew it, savor it, enjoy it, and fully experience it. The more present you are the more satisfied and nourished you will feel.

For me, practicing presence in the kitchen has been so helpful in slowing down my day, bringing more calm and breath to my life, connecting with myself and disconnecting from the external noise, and enjoying the experience of cooking and eating. I hope you find a few daily doses of Vitamin P — Presence in the kitchen and Vitamin M — Mindfulness when nourishing yourself.

Amy Bondar, Nutritional Therapist, Certified Eating Psychology Coach, Speaker, and Author brings 2 decades of experience in the field of nutrition and mind-body coaching and believes that nourishing our body with the power of food, resolving stresses that are influencing our eating behaviors and living a life with purpose are the essential ingredients to optimizing our health. With an open heart and inquiring mind Amy will accompany you on a journey that will inspire you to transform your relationship with food, body, and self. To learn more and work with Amy, visit, www.amybondar.com or contact Amy, amy@amybondar.com

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