Mindful Mealtimes

If everything we do should be mindful, how do you incorporate that into your mealtimes?

A paper in the window with a mindfulness caption on it

It feels like everywhere we look we are being told to be mindful. Meditate! It makes you mindful. Be mindful when you eat! “Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it”, says Sharon Salzburg. Right, along with the 50 other things on my “could do” list that I’m trying to do while I eat my lunch.

But what does being mindful really mean? And, how in a busy world, can we find the opportunity to be mindful? Especially when it comes to how we interact with our food.

Hamburger and fried potatoes on a table

In the simplest of terms, being mindful is about being aware of something, like that beautiful meal on your plate and how each taste and texture come together for the perfect bite. Seems simple enough. But, have you ever eaten a meal and once your plate was empty thought, “wait, wasn’t a whole dinner just on my plate? Where did it go?” Guilty. And, not mindful. At all.

Now, in my defense, I was thinking of a bazillion other things while I ate my crunchy kale salad with roasted salmon. And, whoops, a whole box of almond crackers is gone? What gremlin at those? (Me, being a mindless gremlin.)

Snaps to those people who can shut it all down and quiet the mind, turn off all distractions, and just focus on the food on their plate. I admire you. But, I live with a husband, two dogs (one is a puppy) and a home business. I get a quiet moment at 5:37 am, just as the puppy starts to wiggle awake but before anyone else has started to stir. I’m not eating that early, I’m just breathing.

A bench on a seaside

I feel like I have been chasing mindfulness, focusing on trying so hard to be mindful that I’m missing the moments when I actually am present and mindfully enjoying the moment and the meal.

So, how can we be mindful, especially when we interact with food?

Here are a few of my favorite practices.

1. Cultivate an inner dialogue with your most positive self (tell your inner meanie to sit this one out). Listen to what she says sounds most delicious. Ask him what new foods he wants to try. Offer up what you enjoy most about what you are currently eating so they can help you engage fully in your bite and meal.

Here’s the perk. The more you engage with this positive voice, the clearer you can start to hear and feel when your body gives you queues like, “I am full”.

And, the more you will tune into details such as eating certain proteins makes you feel great (hello lentils and chicken!); eating carbs in the morning makes you overwhelmingly sleepy by 11 am and wrecked for the day; eating chocolate makes you sneeze and leads to inflammation.

Note: These are all my truths. It has been fun and enlightening to discover. Give it a try and then share yours with me in the comments below.

Healthy food on a plate - chicken and salad

2. If you’ve got a busy mind, before you begin your meal, give yourself a couple of minutes to jot down all of those thoughts before you dig into your meal.

Treat yourself to a small journal, or use notes or task app on your phone to write all of your thoughts. All of the things you worry you’ll forget if you stop to eat, the three (or 20) things on your “must accomplish” list, even the grocery items you just realized you needed when you were making this meal.

Whatever is top of mind, write it down so you know you have the info you need to move forward when you’ve finished your meal. But, you’ve now also got the brain space to enjoy your meal. Bon appetìt!

Coffee on a table with an opend jurnaling book and a pen

3. Make the most of your ate app.

When you take the picture of your meal, make note of the colors, textures, and flavors. Try to capture it creatively. Go to town with your food descriptions, too. Pretend you’re writing an article for a food magazine.

Describe your best bite, write out each ingredient, note what you enjoyed most. The more details you aim to capture, the more mindful you will be during your meal because you are focusing on what is on your plate.

Pencake with berries

I know every meal won’t be perfectly mindful, or even enjoyable (hello awkward family holiday meals), but the more effort we make to be aware of what we are consuming, the more chances we have to purposefully select what is best for our bodies and to truly enjoy what is on our plate. And if we’re getting there 80% of the time, then that’s a mindful win!

Marisa cares deeply about wellness and in educating others in making fun, easy and creative healthy lifestyle choices. I practice holistic collaboration; working with individuals, families, and companies to develop well-rounded, healthy food and activity programs.

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