You've just spent an hour creating a beautiful meal, filled with delicious flavours, interesting textures and the perfect seasoning.
You went to the effort to go out and purchase the groceries, bring them home, unpack them and sort them, before you began making this meal.
As you were cooking, you felt present and open to the experience- you noticed the sensations of different utensils in your hands, you focused on the action of chopping your food safely, you tasted the flavours to check they were balanced and you put everything together on the plate, thoughtfully.
You sat down to eat your meal, away from technology and distractions.
Each bite was special, each bite you savoured.
You tapped into feelings of gratitude, realising that being able to afford, store, prepare and enjoy your meal was special.
As you neared the end of the meal, you were tuned into the way your body was feeling and knowing you were already full, you put the remainder of your meal carefully into a container, to enjoy for tomorrow's lunch.
Perhaps, this mindful eating practice seems a little over the top. Life gets busy and eating can become one of those tasks which needs to be completed, but isn't particularly appreciated. And that's ok! The reason why I shared the practice above is not to make you feel guilty or to pressure you to have the perfect mindful meal, every time you eat.
I shared this mindful practice to show you how many opportunities there are for you to be mindful with food! You might even be doing parts of the practice I shared already, without actually realising you were being mindful.
Below, I've written a list of a few different ways you can practice mindfulness with food. You don't need to do all of them every time you eat! Instead, try a couple of tips with one meal and see what you like. Some practices will resonate more with you than others, so allow yourself to choose the ones which genuinely feel right for you. On the other hand, don't be afraid to use the practices a few times to try and get the hang of them. Mindful eating can be an interesting journey and gives you the opportunity to build a fun, meaningful and rich mindfulness practice.
FOOD AND MINDFUL EATING TIPS:
Choose your meals thoughtfully. At the start of the week, I plan all my meals so I can buy the groceries in one trip. When I meal plan, I sit down with my favourite recipe books, enjoy a cup of tea, listen to music and thoughtfully choose recipes which will nourish me and give me the energy I need (with special treats to feed my soul, as well!).
- Be mindful during the grocery shopping. Tune into the music playing, make deliberate choices between foods (for example, if you always unthinkingly buy spaghetti pasta, try choosing a different one instead, just for fun!), acknowledge gratitude for having access to so much food, cross things off your shopping list… Anything which helps to bring you into the moment.
- Unpack and sort your groceries mindfully. This is quite a natural mindfulness practice, as we usually think about what we're doing. If we didn't, we'd be putting the meat in the pantry and the potatoes in the freezer! Just take a little time to slow down and mindfulness will come naturally, as you think about what you're doing.
- While you're cooking, try to be as non-judgemental as you can. There is no “wrong” in the kitchen, just opportunities to learn! Become immersed in the actions of cooking your meal, from chopping things up, to stirring, to arranging your meal on a plate.
- Sit down to enjoy your meal, away from distractions, such as technology.
- Take the time to notice different flavours, different textures, different aromas... There is so much to experience as we eat! You can also tune into your body and how it reacts- does it prefer some flavours to others? How do you know you've eaten enough?
- Washing up. There is (perhaps, surprisingly!) a depth of experience to be found in washing the dishes. Notice the warmth of the water, the smell of the washing liquid and the satisfaction of creating cleanliness.
Try growing your own food- vegetables, herbs, fruit etc to give yourself even more meaningful ways to be mindful, from the planting process, to collecting the produce and then enjoying something you grew yourself! Alternatively, you can go for an adventure to a farm where you can pick your own food, for another fun and exciting mindfulness opportunity.