Mindfulness or “insight meditation” can be translated as a clear awareness of exactly what is happening as it happens. Analogically, “mindful eating” is being aware of why, how and when you eat. Here are some concepts that will help you change the way you eat and treat food :
Start with “healing” your mind. Without a healthy mind, no diet or treatment will ever work ! Like meditation, setting a daily healthy eating habit requires determination and discipline. It requires a healthy mind first of all.
Our life flows moment by moment, never the same, always changing, yet we tend to try to make the impossible possible by grabing onto “good” thoughts, “good” perceptions, “good” events. When we are outside the “good” we feel miserable and unsatisfied. We push away and deny everything that we perceive as “bad”. This constant race after pleasure, ignoring most of our experiences because they bring us “pain” is actually the reason why we feel so unhappy. And when we are in the “neutral” area, when neither “good” or “bad” is happening, then we consider life boring. When our drive is satisfied, then we feel relieved and relaxed. Try to find ways to heal your mind and relieve stress, negative thoughts and emotional pain, using techniques like meditation, yoga, emotional freedom technique or qi gong.
Learn to control cravings. The only thing in life you can control is your mind. If you crave chocolate and you eat an apple instead, then you are on the right way. If you eat a small snack before going to a party, then you start being mindful about your eating. We live in a world of “craving” everything that makes us feel “good”. Starting with that artificial, sugar loaded piece of cake that we gobbled up at dinner and ending with that very expensive cell phone we bought, because we just “needed” it. You know your mind and body feel sick and you don’t know why. Satisfying our “cravings” puts an end to our daily tensions. Look carefully and truthful inside yourself and see if you really “need” everything you crave. If you can see yourself exactly how you are now, then change will happen naturally.
You don’t need complicated meals, as you don’t need a complicated life. To put it simple, if you can’t pronounce the ingredients listed on the food label, don’t eat it!
Be mindful about your portions. Remember the concepts of “simplicity” and “self-sufficiency”. Be mindful when you choose your foods and don’t treat them as simple “fuel”, but rather as the ones that tell you what you really are and that can miraculously heal you. To start, as a simple guideline, try to combine a small portion of the foods you like in particular with other healthy foods (a variety of vegetables, legumes, grains, etc) and leave a third of your plate empty. It has to be healthy, simple and in a reasonable size.
Slow down. In this fast pacing world, people find themselves gobbling up low nutritional food in front of their computer, tv, when talking on the phone or running around. As far as digestion is concerned, that is very detrimental. Nutrients can not be absorbed properly, leading to digestive discomfort and nutritional deficiencies. Mindfulness teaches us how to “be in the moment” and train our minds to focus on anything, not only when we choose to meditate, but in every aspect of our daily lives. You can be mindful when you talk to your children, do the laundry, run errands or when eating. Stop for a moment and savour each bite you take. Think about the food you eat, where did it come from, how did it grow, how it was cooked, be aware of the taste it has and of your own movements while you eat. It might seem a little hard to do in the beginning and even time consuming, but the benefits you will have in the long run, are worth it.