You know the phrase, “Think before you speak,” right?
I have another one for you.
It’s so simple, “Sit before you eat.”
I was reminded of this last night as I stood at my kitchen counter mindlessly munching on these yummy rice crackers. The thing is, I got to the end of the package and was surprised that I had finished the bag! I was barely satisfied even though I was full! I also had a good amount of crumbs on my shirt.
Do you do this too?
It would have been so much more pleasurable if I had brought all of my senses to eating my snack— sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. If I had stopped checking emails on my phone, took a seat at the table, and put my snacks on a plate I’d probably appreciated them more. Learning how to be present to ourselves and the wonderful food on our plates can bring us joy and satisfaction. I felt a little sorry for these tasty crackers because I basically ignored them while they were doing the work of feeding me.
Practicing mindful eating involves all of our senses and in order to really be able to eat with joy and presence, it makes sense that we would put away the phone, the emails, the to do lists and just sit. In Buddhist teachings, much of the practice revolves around just sitting. Sounds easy, but it is not! When sitting, our minds can go into story-making mode rehashing past arguments, things we would have, could have, should have said, and spins tales about the future. Thus, just sitting means to sit in the present moment and to invite your attention back to the present moment because it likes to wander. In fact, the mind’s job in many ways is to proliferate with ideas, but what mindfulness teaches us is that the ideas and stories we tell are not necessarily based in reality, but we act like they are.
Much like we bring our attention back to the present while sitting in meditation, the key to mindful eating is to practice bringing your mind to your mouth and allowing yourself to notice when you are satisfied (an emotional feeling) and full (a physical sensation). Sometimes we eat to go unconscious because life can be so stressful, right? But we often don’t feel so good afterwards and can spiral into negative self-talk.
But what if you chose to do things differently and made the choice to appreciate and enjoy your cake one bite at a time?
By inviting your attention to the simple act of eating something you love slowly and intentionally, you are re-training your brain to break out of old habits and learning to derive joy and satisfaction from the foods you love. Remember- ALL FOOD IS MEDICINE and you get to choose the appropriate dose.