Mindfulness, simply put, is a state of becoming fully aware of what is happening in the current moment, without judgment. Food is an essential part of life and is responsible for fueling our bodies from the inside out, so being mindful about our food choices is especially important. Preparing and sharing a meal with loved ones can be an intimate experience that allows for great conversation, deeper connection, and more joy.
As a personal chef, coach, and yoga teacher, I work hands-on with clients daily to help them make dietary and lifestyle changes that ultimately lead to greater levels of health, happiness, and harmony. I incorporate mindfulness into my life and my sessions with other people in a multitude of ways, including when I prepare meals or teach a class. How we eat is just as important as what we eat—slowing things down and eating mindfully with intention allows us to get the most out of each meal and will extend into other areas of our life as well. Below are five tips on how to eat with intention.
Before taking a bite off your plate, express gratitude for the meal in front of you and bless the food you are about to eat. Close your eyes and, out loud or to yourself, thank the earth and those involved in the harvesting, preparation, and creation of the ingredients on your plate. Take a moment to acknowledge all the hard work and labor that went into the creation of the food you are about to consume. The simple act of expressing gratitude for the food on our plate can help us cultivate more gratitude in other areas of our life as well.
Eat slowly with intention:
Let eating become a ritual that is both nourishing and enjoyable. Before even picking up your fork, set an intention that the meal you are about to consume will nourish your body to the fullest. Take the food in with all your senses, noticing any colors, textures, smells, or visceral sensations. Slow the process of eating by chewing for longer periods of time—try to chew 30 times per bite. In addition to promoting better digestion, slowing your eating will enable you to cultivate greater awareness around determining when you are almost full and satiated, so overeating does not occur. Take a deep breath and find a pause before picking up your fork and between bites. Place your fork down on the table while you breathe deeply into your belly, taking a moment to reflect on how you are feeling. Stay present and enjoy each bite.
Eat sitting down and without distractions:
Although we live busy and at times stressful lives, it is an important practice to eat your meals in a quiet place, free of distractions. Dedicate a specific amount of time to eating and try not to multitask. Shut off your phone, TV, or any other electronics and set up your environment so that you can eat in peace, sitting down with a clear mind. This will allow you the awareness to fully focus on what and how you are eating.
Choose a smaller plate:
Contrary to popular belief, in this modern world, bigger isn’t always better. With bigger plates and greater portion sizes, there is a natural tendency for many people to unconsciously overeat. Choosing a smaller plate will help with portion control and help prevent overeating.
Stop eating before you are full:
As kids, many of us were taught to finish every ounce of food on our plate, even if we are full. To avoid overeating, stop eating when you are about 80% full, even if that means food is still left on your plate. Then wait at least 20 minutes to see if you are still hungry.
Following these tips toward eating with intention will improve your overall health—mental, emotional, and physical—and give you a greater appreciation for the things that fuel our lives. Develop the habit of mindful eating and watch many areas of your life change for the better!
Lisa Brown, founder of Free Flowing Health, is a whole-foods, plant-based chef, certified Institute for Integrative Nutrition health coach, and yoga teacher servicing the SWFL area. In addition to having acquired a culinary education at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC, Lisa received her certifications to teach yoga from the Kripalu Center for Health & Yoga in Massachusetts and Kundalini Yoga East in NYC. She holds a master’s degree in forensic psychology from John Jay College. After overcoming many adversities on her own personal journey of self-discovery and transformation, Lisa’s quest for knowledge, passion for healthy living, and deep desire to be of service to others became insatiable. Today, Lisa combines her work as a chef, coach, and educator to help people around the world achieve greater levels of health, happiness, and harmony.