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The 7 Practices Of Mindful Eating

How often have you eaten on the run or tried to eat while you are reading, talking on the phone etc? I know I am guilty of having done those things.

In recent years, I’ve learned to respect food more and make every meal a ritual of sorts. For this, I must give credit to José. Since most often the food is prepared by either one or both of us, eating and enjoying it together is important.

Some years ago, I read about the whole concept of mindful eating. This has its roots in Buddhism. Disciples of Buddhism are encouraged to try various forms of meditation – focusing on their breathing, or meditating in different postures while sitting, standing or walking. Similarly they are encouraged to meditate while eating. This creates more consciousness about what they are eating and to focus on the present moment.

However this practice has received  secular attention too. Experts say that when we focus on what we are eating and savour each morsel, the food not only tastes better but we eat less and more healthy too. Binge eating, comfort eating and overeating can all be prevented by us becoming more conscious of what we eat, when we eat and why we eat when we do!

Dr Lillian Cheung, Lecturer and Director of Health Promotion & Communication at the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition, has dedicated herself to promoting this concept. She co-authored with the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh to write Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life

The rhythm of life is becoming faster and faster, so we really don’t have the same awareness and the same ability to check into ourselves. That’s why mindful eating is becoming more important. We need to be coming back to ourselves and saying: ‘Does my body need this? Why am I eating this? Is it just because I’m so sad and stressed out?’
~ Dr Lillian Cheung

So what are the practices of mindful eating?

Often, those of us who are privileged, take food for granted. We don’t take time to recall where the food is coming from – all the work that went into getting it onto our plate.  This is especially true when we eat packaged food.  I’ve realized, from my own experience, that when I make food from scratch I enjoy it so much more. It’s important for us to take time to prepare our own meals and preferably from fresh ingredients. We must learn to honour the food we eat.

I would also like to add that it’s important to say a word of thanks to God and the Universe recalling to your mind all the hands that toiled to get that food on your plate – starting from the farmers and moving up the whole cycle. A word of thanks to the person who prepared it too is important.

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I particularly recall an episode of the Kylie Kwong Show in which shetravels to Shandong, the homeland of Confucius. This master of philosophy is also considered the father of Chinese culinary arts. I was amazed at how important Confucius considered the preparation and presentation of food. He said that colour, aroma, flavour and texture are most important in food. We are encouraged to engage all the senses when eating. Although it’s considered bad manners, I love to smell food before eating it.  Do you?

It is suggested that that we use smaller plates to eat – the larger the plate, the more you eat. Being aware of the serving size helps us not to overeat.

We tend to serve ourselves more when we are distracted. Therefore, it’s important that we don’t  multi-task – when you eat, you eat. πŸ™‚

Chewing food leads to better digestion and assimilation of the nutrients in our food. This is because when we chew our food properly, digestive enzymes are released that help in the absorption of nutrients. We are advised to chew 20-30 times before we swallow. One good practice is to lay down the fork/spoon between mouthfuls.

It is important to signal the end of a meal to oneself by getting up from the table and clearing it. In a restaurant, we could request the waiter to clear our plate. When we hang around unfinished food, there’s a tendency to keep eating. Sometimes, not having good ways to store food, makes us eat to finish it, thus leading to overeating.

Finally, after we have eaten, we should become aware of how the food we ate makes us feel. Some foods make us feel energetic, some make us feel thirsty, others puffed up. All these are signals of the food choices we should make in the future.

Even as I write this post, I’m becoming more aware of how much more I have to incorporate the practices of mindful eating into my life.  Do you practice mindful eating?

 

 

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013.

Write Tribe

 

Photo Credit: bass_nroll via Compfight cc

102 Comments

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  3. Usha Pisharody Usha Pisharody September 5, 2013

    Wonderful post, Corinne! What I needed to read, right now. Have been an irregular ‘eater’, to put it in bad grammar – a bad habit gets bad grammar!
    I definitely need to practise better and healthy eating habits; and this one inspires me to do so! Thank you!
    Usha Pisharody recently posted..A Teacher IsMy Profile

  4. Amit Amit September 4, 2013

    I never eat in a hurry unless the food is really bad and I have to gulp it down. I like tasting each and every morsel.
    I seem to be doing the right thing. πŸ™‚

  5. Proactive Indian Proactive Indian September 4, 2013

    Superb post! Very timely in my case. Resolved to try not to slip into ‘unmindful eating’ as I keep doing every now and then!
    We tend to take the words “eat to live” too seriously, with the result that a meal is treated as a chore.
    It’s common to see people eat ‘whatever they can, whenever they can, wherever they can and howsoever they can’, especially at lunch on a working day. This is seen as a sign of dedication to work!
    Proactive Indian recently posted..Is this how a bank should treat a customer?My Profile

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 4, 2013

      You have hit the nail on the head. Yes, the ‘eat to live’ philosophy have been carried to extremes and a meal is indeed treated as a chore. Especially when at work. And probably cited during annual appraisals.
      Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..7 Reasons Why I Love My DogMy Profile

  6. B k chowla B k chowla September 3, 2013

    I dont know if it is mindful eating.I eat three meals a day and have never ever eaten anything in between meals
    B k chowla recently posted..CASUAL LEAVEMy Profile

  7. Jessica Jessica September 3, 2013

    Great article! I always make it so that the first two or three minutes of my meal with my kids are in silence. I tell them it’s important to actually taste our food! So true in that we usually become distracted by so many things-tv’s ,conversations, our own thoughts, that we can eat an entire meal and hardly remember it, often over eating in the process. I also find that eating mindfully really starts to begin to cultivate a deeper sense of gratitude and awareness of what it took for whatever is on our plate to get there.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 4, 2013

      Yes, mindless eating is the main reason for overeating. And I quite like the idea of keeping silent for the first two or three minutes of the meal. I must try it out.

  8. Melissa Melissa September 3, 2013

    Thank you for the reminder ~ I’m taking care of my stomach so I do practice it more often now than before. I do smell the food before eating it πŸ˜› I admire the art that was practiced on the food and I enjoy tasting the different flavors and how they blend πŸ˜€

    Slowly, mindfully thanking the one who cooked it and who took part in making the food.

    *I learned this from my Ignatian retreat.

    Thank you for sharing this post ~ it’s a continuous reminder for me to stop and enjoy the food πŸ™‚
    Melissa recently posted..Fall In Love: A Peek into the Hidden LifeMy Profile

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 4, 2013

      Melissa, great to know that you are already a practitioner of mindful eating. The Jesuits have incorporated many practices from the East whilst conducting Ignatian retreats and I guess this is one of them.
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  9. Jeevan Jacob John Jeevan Jacob John September 2, 2013

    Hey Corinne,

    I haven’t quite practiced mindful eating, but I have done something similar. I have tried clearing my mind and focusing on one particular task: observation (I am working on my observation and analyses skills – I observe how other people eat, how they behave, their habits).

    But, after reading this post, I think I should keep that activity for later πŸ˜€ I am actually guilty of many things mentioned in the post. Usually, I am distracted while eating (I like to read something while I eat).

    I do like smelling my food though πŸ˜€ It’s is weird, but I like it. Why not engage our senses? Don’t just eat for the sake of living (and of course, don’t live for the sake of eating :D).

    I do love experimenting with new ideas, and this one seems to deserve experimenting with. I will try practicing mindful eating. Thanks for the tips, Corinne!

  10. Martha Orlando Martha Orlando September 2, 2013

    Great advice, Corinne! Yes, we pretty much practice mindful eating at our house. It does mean so much more when we take time to savor and enjoy, not gobble down our food. And, we always, always give thanks.
    Blessings, my friend!
    Martha Orlando recently posted..Disconnect to ReconnectMy Profile

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 4, 2013

      Martha, its good to know that you practice mindful eating as a family. Yes, giving thanks is so very integral to the practice.
      Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..7 Reasons Why I Love My DogMy Profile

  11. Sulekha Sulekha September 2, 2013

    Corinne, your post is about something I am doing write now and seeing the results of practicing mindful eating. We do tend to multitask while eating and miss out on this beautiful process.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 4, 2013

      Sulekha, good to know that you are already experiencing the benefits of mindful eating. I am sure that it will become a regular practice.
      Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..7 Reasons Why I Love My DogMy Profile

  12. G Angela G Angela September 2, 2013

    well presented corinne, agreed with everything you stated, I did start mindful eating, even made some very positive changes to eat at the table and be grateful for the persons who made it, over a period I lost into multitasking, this post is a reminder for me to get back to mindful eating… thanks for sharing !!
    G Angela recently posted..SEVEN THINGS I CHERISH THE MOSTMy Profile

  13. Raj Raj September 2, 2013

    These is such a great post. Last year I forced myself to sit for 20 minutes everyday at lunch and pay attention to what I was eating, in silence. It was hard! At first I was anxious without my phone or a book to flip through – but slowly it became the best part of my day. Now I can’t wait for the kids to go back to school so I can start the practice again.
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  14. sunita sunita September 2, 2013

    What an informative post Corrine! I need to think about what i eat as i am a lazy eater πŸ™‚ Never gave importance to food.What next? waiting waiting waiting πŸ™‚

  15. Sayantini Bhattacharya Sayantini Bhattacharya September 1, 2013

    Hi, Corinne, this post is so enriched. I think food has a direct connection with spirituality. Though we lead a tough life everyday, we shouldn’t ignore two things, to have our meals with the entire family and the other is mindful eating. Thanks for reminding us πŸ™‚
    Sayantini Bhattacharya recently posted..Seven Things You Can’t AvoidMy Profile

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 4, 2013

      I agree. Food does have a direct link with spirituality. However, whilst chasing our tails, we forget this and eat on the run, sometimes alone.
      Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..7 Reasons Why I Love My DogMy Profile

  16. Ruchira Ruchira September 1, 2013

    Loved your insight into mindful eating, Corrine.

    I agree gratitude is an important factor and that also helps nullifying any toxins in the food thus, making it organic πŸ™‚

    Looking fwd to your series of posts πŸ™‚
    Ruchira recently posted..Music into WordsMy Profile

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 4, 2013

      Never realised that gratitude also helps neutralise toxins in the food and makes it organic. But yes, without gratitude, a meal can never be mindful, in the real sense of the work. No matter how much each morsel is savored.
      Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..7 Reasons Why I Love My DogMy Profile

  17. Laurel (Dawn Storey) Laurel (Dawn Storey) September 1, 2013

    I SO need to learn to practice mindful eating! I rush through my meals far too quickly – partly because I’m hungry, but mostly because I want to move on to whatever’s happening next. I need to learn that the meal itself, and taking time to appreciate and savour it, is just as important as the next item in the day’s schedule. Thank you for this insightful post.
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    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 4, 2013

      Somehow, we tend to feel that food is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. Like refueling the car. Actually, eating mindfully tends to help us pace our lives and achieve more.
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  18. vishalbheeroo vishalbheeroo September 1, 2013

    Thanks for this enlightning post on eating. I have the bad habit of eating in a hurry and will do it tonight only. Eat slowly and enjoy as well as respect the food and the brain behind the food, here Mom:)

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 4, 2013

      I am quite sure your mom will be very happy to see you relishing the food that she has cooked. Nothing can make person preparing the food happier than seeing someone savoring a dish.
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  19. Naina Madan Naina Madan September 1, 2013

    I so agree with the concept of mindful eating. The meals I have while talking on the phone or watching TV, I don’t know where they go because I get hungry soon after!
    I have started taking about 20 minutes and kind of enjoying every bite than just gulping it all down in flat 5 minutes, which I used to do earlier!

  20. Roshni Roshni September 1, 2013

    These are wonderful tips! I appreciate what you said about being thankful for the food in front of you! Too many people take that for granted!
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  21. Radha Radha September 1, 2013

    Somehow I feel that our ancestors were better off without all the science and technology. It would be great if the concepts of praying before you eat, and of Satva, Rajas and Tamas. Sigh!
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    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 4, 2013

      I agree. Our ancestors were better off, though I guess they had to work much harder to get food on the table. Hence, they respected the food and eat mindfully.
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  22. afshan afshan September 1, 2013

    I am not a mindful eater but am not a mindless eater either πŸ˜›
    that meditation part works with me though I dont do it procedurally
    least interested in cooking but interested in eating when husband cooks
    Some how my disinterest helps me eat less
    GOOD TIPS all in all corinne

  23. Talya Tate Boerner Talya Tate Boerner September 1, 2013

    I try to practice mindful eating. Some days, not so easy. Great post.

  24. Richa Singh Richa Singh September 1, 2013

    I agree with a lot of points mentioned in the post. But the most I agree to is of course the element of cooking your own food. Not only do you savour it but also wasting it makes you feel all the more guilty. And in the world we live all kinds of wastage should be condemned but mostly Food!
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    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 4, 2013

      Yes, cooking your own food and then savoring it is the ultimate in mindful eating. Today, some people seem to have so much, that wastage is a norm. Whilst many go to bed with an empty stomach.
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  25. Leah Leah September 1, 2013

    Good one Corinne! I’m reading the book, God Women and Food for the second time. This book is based on mindful eating. I still eat in front of the TV sometimes, which is a big no no…hard habit to break! LOL!
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    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 4, 2013

      Frankly, I believe that eating in front of the TV encourages mindless eating. I’m sure that you will break the habit….. if you really try. πŸ˜‰
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  26. Sheethal Sheethal September 1, 2013

    Guilty here for not practicing the mindful eating habits. Eating on the run or while multitasking is something I do all the time. Only thing I follow is not to waste food and take just what I need… But this is full of Gyaan of what I never thought and will keep in mind from now onward.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 4, 2013

      In today’s world, where multitasking is a norm rather than an exception, it hardly surprising that we don’t eat mindfully.
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  27. Cathy Graham Cathy Graham September 1, 2013

    Thanks for all the reminders about mindful eating. I really liked your take on it. I’ve been going to Weight Watchers for 3 years straight now and am trying to be more mindful when I eat. I’ve lost 25 pounds and am trying to lose more which is not easy as my body likes me at this weight now. It would take much more work to get me there. Oh well. A super model I ain’t but I feel healthier! Some days I fall into my bad habits of sweet binging or mindless eating when I’m bored or upset. You have given me more good ideas to think about when eating such as appreciating where it came from, and the Buddha practice of meditation and being aware. Thanks so much! I must print out your blog post and refer to it.
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    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 1, 2013

      I really glad that you found this post useful to complement the Weight Watchers program. Yes, there are days when we binge ore eat mindlessly. More so when bored or upset. Hope these tips will help on such days.
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  28. the little princess the little princess September 1, 2013

    i never thought about eating in such an insightful little way! to me, i have always followed not wasting a morsel of food served on my plate, but ur post tells me there is more..the holistic way to eating makes sense and thanks for sharing!
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  29. Laxmi Chundi Addanki Laxmi Chundi Addanki September 1, 2013

    Another one that is being printed as we speak – you were truly reading my mind today. I need gyaan more than anyone else that had visited your blog today Corinne – thank you for everything, or may be I cannot just thank you enough!
    πŸ™‚

  30. usha menon usha menon September 1, 2013

    Corinne this a post full of ‘gyan’. I will practise this in my house.

  31. Susan Deborah Susan Deborah September 1, 2013

    I am OCD on mindful eating and this post spoke my thoughts, albeit in a beautiful manner. Thanks Corinne for this brilliant remainder on a Sunday morning.

    Joy always,
    Susan

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 1, 2013

      I guess this is one case when OCD is OK. Unless it bothers on being anti social, which is hardly likely in your case. πŸ˜‰
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  32. Kalpana Solsi Kalpana Solsi September 1, 2013

    Thanks for the right ways of eating and I will follow them. I eat very fast and hurriedly at times running from here to there. It’s said that food is first seen and tasted later. So the food should be appealing to the eyes first and should invite and tantalize the person to taste it. That’s why in Hindu traditions the person who cooks the food is equated to Mata Annaporna’ or Goddesses.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 1, 2013

      Yes, I agree that food is first seen and tasted later. I guess we all need to slow down and focusing on what you are eating is is probably the best way to pacing ourselves.
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  33. Vishnu Vishnu September 1, 2013

    Not much of a mindful eater but I am getting better at this Corinne.

    One experience which thought me mindful eating was a silent meditation retreat. We couldn’t talk or read or watch tv so I actually ate my food for a week or so paying attention to the taste and texture of the food. Not surprisingly, the food began to taste delicious as I began to become more mindful of it.

    I try to employ this in my day to day life and with moderate success. Also, as of late, I’m making more conscious decisions of what I eat and keep away from what I shouldn’t be eating. Makes me feel healthier and better about myself. Thank you for the reminder to do more mindful eating:)

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 1, 2013

      Good for you that you are already well on the path to mindful eating. Yes, a mediation retreat is probably the best place to practice mindful eating. And yes, as you become mindful, food certainly tastes delicious.
      Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..Preserving The Past?My Profile

  34. privytrifles privytrifles September 1, 2013

    I follow almost all of them except the fact that I do it only once a day for lunch during office hours means quick bites which are swallowed with tons of water πŸ˜›
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  35. Shail Shail September 1, 2013

    Strangely enough, when I get Take Away food or packaged food is the time I think more of the effort that has gone into it. I am surer people stayed awake, worked hard to get it on to the shelves for me to carry it home and make a meal out of it with so much ease. Similarly people at a restaurant work all sorts of early and late hours so we can sit down to a good meal. It is impossible to forget the people behind what you eat. πŸ™‚
    I have had most meals by myself. That’s how the lifestyle has been for me as an infantry officer’s wife. πŸ™‚ Now at least dinners are had together πŸ™‚

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 1, 2013

      Yes, remembering all those behind what you eat is very important. In fact, I believe, that without remembering all the people involved, you cannot eat mindfully, in the true sense of the word.
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  36. C. Suresh C. Suresh September 1, 2013

    Alas! No! I am not a mindful eater. The one thing though is that I never take the food for granted.
    C. Suresh recently posted..Save this sinnerMy Profile

  37. Preeti Preeti September 1, 2013

    Thanks for such a great post Corinne! So much helpful information…. πŸ™‚
    I hope I start incorporating these practices too!
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  38. Rachna Rachna September 1, 2013

    Absolutely right, Corinne. Thank you for writing about it. I do try to do mindful eating, practice gratitude, meditate and exercise daily. Trying to not let the negative ones bother me too. The end result is always on our health, right!
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  39. Vidya Sury Vidya Sury September 1, 2013

    Mindful eating is Step 1 to staying healthy. In fact, in current times, not noticing what we eat or “grabbing” something on the go is the worst thing. After all, food gives us energy and nutrition and respecting it is a great way to be grateful to life itself.

    Loved this post! Fab start to the Festival.
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    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | September 1, 2013

      So true – when we’re in a hurry food is the first thing that gets ‘downgraded’! Thanks, Vidya.
      Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..Preserving The Past?My Profile

  40. Jyothi Nair Jyothi Nair September 1, 2013

    I must start mindful eating very very soon. I do a lot of stress eating and this post of yours brings in a hope in me to change that. Thank you Corinne.
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    • Corinne Rodrigues