5 Ways to Achieve Wellness Through Mindful Eating
1. Eat at a table.
Ahh, the Western productivity obsession.
A desk at work does not count as a table. Nor does your car on the way to work. Scarfing down a sandwich while staring at a computer screen or racing through traffic ~ these are not lucid practices.
We’ve become so accustomed to multi+tasking that we unknowingly ditch mindful practices (such as eating) for the sake of productivity.
Keeping in mind the effects that meditation has on the brain, you’ll likely be more productive after a break from the computer and a mindful meal. Your brain will thank you for giving it a rest from the task at hand and you will have spurred creativity by engaging in a lucid lunch.
2. Pray before each meal.
It doesn’t matter if you’re Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, atheist, etc. The fact that you have a meal in front of you demonstrates how fortunate you are. By praying, you acknowledge your gratitude and center your focus on the food you’re about to eat.
3. Chew for presence and health. Can mindful eating save lives?
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly diseases and it has been linked to not fully chewing food.
I recently read Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh and in it he explained that monks usually eat in silence and chew each bite 100 times in order to appreciate their food and aid in digestion. We’re not suggesting that you go from thoughtless eating to monastic eating overnight, but it’s helpful to see just how devoted some practitioners are.
4. Eat food you’ve caught, grown, or hunted.
If you’ve ever eaten food from your own garden or from a friend’s garden, you can tell the difference. The average Western consumer has become so divorced with the source of their food, most of the time having no idea where or how their food was grown, caught, or killed (yes, if you eat meat or fish, the animal was killed.)
If you grow your own food, you have a better appreciation about the process of nurturing a crop. You’re likely to appreciate and be more present when eating something you’ve grown. Plus, if you grow your own food, you know that you’re not ingesting harsh toxins and pesticides whereas with store bought food, it’s anybody’s guess.
One of my favorite parts about eating in China was that the whole body of the animal was cooked and brought to us for each meal. Often times, we saw the live animal right before we ate it. This practice gives you a connection with the animal instead of the dehumanization that big poultry companies in the West adhere to.
An image of a delicious chicken dish Brian and I ate in a small village in Longsheng, China. Notice, the head and feet are in the dish, reminding us, “Yes, this is a real animal.”
It’s almost as if big poultry companies say, “Here’s a slab of meat, don’t think about where it came from.” Perhaps it’s a ploy to prevent consumers from considering the conditions in which the animal was raised and killed ~ but that’s for another post.
5. Turn off the TV and discuss your meal.
Most of us aren’t at the monastic point of eating in silence. Practically speaking, many of us eat meals with family and friends. Instead of zoning out and watching the news, sports, or a sitcom ~ engage in a conversation about your meal. Talk about the texture, flavor, temperature, quality, etc. You’ll become more in touch with your senses. You’ll find that this helps you learn about why you and your family and friends like certain food and perhaps this will help you try new things.
Mindful eating helps us with proper digestion, eating the right amount of food, the overall enjoyment of food, and learning and becoming more in touch with ourselves and others.
What’s your biggest challenge to eating mindfully? What mindful eating tips do you have for our readers?