Since my move to Chicagoland and the ensuing chaos of settling into a new place, I became lax in my attention to the beautiful act of eating with its benefits of optimal digestion, keener metabolism, and sheer pleasure. I knew that I had not been consistently practicing one of the most important principles of my work and life: mindful eating. This caused me to feel bloated and my waistline to expand. Not a great feeling!
Unfortunately, LIFE stepped in and pushed me back into the habit of slowing down and paying attention to myself as an eater. Two weeks ago, I was eating a piece of toast with almond butter while walking around looking for something. Clearly not focused on the act of eating, I bit down inside my mouth in a huge way! It brought exquisite pain and some blood too – it was really awful. My mouth was swollen and raw for over a week. During this time, I had no choice but to eat and drink slowly and carefully. At first, I was incredulous that this happened, and I was angry at myself. (It helped to find out that others in my life had done this too!) But after the first couple of days, I began to enjoy the act of chewing and simply enjoying my food. I spent more time eating, but I consumed less while still feeling very satisfied. I also avoided salty foods (rice chips being my favorite salty snack) that would sting and discovered that my taste for salt diminished. As I continue my mindful eating, I feel better all around; my digestion is great, and I am enjoying my food again. And I’m not overeating because my brain knows that I’m full!
Based off of my experience, I hope you will become more aware of yourself as an eater and slow down! I promise that you will feel better all around, both physically and mentally. Do what it takes to remind yourself to slow down in the early weeks, and then a positive habit will be in place.
To get back into the habit of mindful eating, here’s what you can do.
Designate a certain amount of time that you will spend eating a meal or snack, such as 10 minutes for a small meal or snack and 20 minutes for dinner.
Don’t engage in screen time when eating. Focus on your food and the experience.
Count the number of times you chew your food before swallowing.
Food is your friend!