Mindful eating is a newer trend among dietitians and nutritionists. It’s the practice of meditating on your food while you eat in an attempt to slow down your brain and your stomach.
This practice is thought to help with weight loss by getting you more in tune with your sense of “fullness”; in other words, this meditation helps you realize when your body is ready to stop eating, so you don’t overeat.
I experimented with some mindful eating to see how I would feel afterwards, and this is what happened.
To prep myself, I researched some tips on how to eat mindfully. A few of the recurring tips were:
Eat in silence, away from distractions like the TV, your phone, your computer, or other people.
Sit at a table when you eat, rather than pacing around your kitchen or sitting on your couch in front of Netflix.
Close your eyes on the first bite.
Put your fork down between every bite.
Try chewing each bite 25 times.
For my experiment, I prepared myself a medium-sized garden salad with lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, onions, shredded cheese, and a homemade honey vinaigrette.
Just like the various websites suggested, I isolated myself. I went to my dining room table alone, dimmed the lights, and hid all surrounding technology. It felt a little cult-like, just me and my salad in the dark.
I tried starting off with a few deep breaths, just to clear my mind. Then I closed my eyes (which felt extremely awkward), and had my first bite of salad.
If anything, it was surprising. Not looking at your food while you eat leaves your brain unprepared for the flavors you’re about to taste, and although it was jolting, it was also a heightened experience.
After the first bite, I did open my eyes, but I was adamant about the other rules; I put my fork down between every bite and tried chewing each bite 25 times. The latter was more difficult than I had anticipated.
Note: trying to chew a bite of salad 25 times doesn’t really work, you end up looking like a grazing cow. This is definitely a trick best left to heartier foods.
But putting down my fork after each bite really made a huge difference. Instead of rushing through my salad, I took my time — it took me twenty minutes to finish something that usually would have taken me five minutes to inhale. Even my chewing slowed down, without me even realizing it.
Like most websites instructed, I also tried to empty my mind and envision every flavor in my meal.
Did it feel weird? Extremely. But did I forget about my deadlines and my bills and any petty worries that had bothered me that day? Absolutely. My mind was blissfully wiped clean for those twenty minutes while I honed in on every part of my salad. And it was amazing.
Is mindful eating something I could do everyday? Probably not.
The experience was relaxing and left me surprisingly full — it was like my salad was double its actual size — but it was also extremely time consuming. If you have 20 minutes or so every day to reflect on the flavors in your food, more power to you. But for the average person who’s rushing to get from point A to point B, mindful eating at each meal doesn’t make sense.
I would definitely suggest trying this eating technique (if not at least once in your life) once a week. It’s a really great opportunity to enjoy a nice meal and have some peace during a busy day. Plus, it works towards making your mind and body a little more connected than they already are. And there is no harm in that, my friends.