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4 Secrets to Eating Mindfully

By Kamina Nagel, Life Coach and Blogger:

For a long time my breakfast looked something like this: 1 x chocolate flavoured Up&Go. Not only was I consuming way too much processed sugar, I was downing it in about 10 seconds! Gratefully, it wasn't long before I was introduced to an exciting new world of truly nourishing food. It was this gradual shift into a healthier, more balanced food philosophy that become the catalyst for profound and positive changes in both my mind and my body.

However, WHAT we choose to eat and WHY we eat it is only part of our journey towards eating well. It’s also important to be conscious of HOW we choose to eat.

The key to mastering how we eat begins and ends with mindfulness. But what does it mean to eat mindfully? Check out some of my favourite tips that keep me on track every day:

1. Acknowledge

When I was young, I remember how impatient I would get when we had to say grace at the dinner table! These days, I love saying a short prayer of gratitude when I sit down to a meal, simply acknowledging how lucky I am to be able to enjoy the deliciousness in front of me. Notice the smile that appears on your face as your mouth starts to water. Smell the aromas. Marvel at the colours. Sit with that for just a few moments before picking up your cutlery and taking your first bite.

2. Focus

I love a quick Instagram snap as much as the next girl, but remember to put your phone away and pop it on silent before you start eating. If you do take photos of your food, be conscious of the people you are eating with. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to wait for an impromptu photo shoot to wrap up while your food is getting cold. Also, if you’re at work, make it a priority to eat away from your desk unless absolutely necessary. Get a healthy hit of Vitamin D by eating outside if you can. Remove distractions from your space and focus on the food you are eating and the people you are eating with. That email can wait 20 minutes, believe me.

3. Chew

A lot more than you think! Not only does it help avoid bloating and indigestion later on, it allows you to really taste the food in your mouth. For me, this is has always been a challenge – I love food too much! So when I’m feeling overly indulgent, I find the best thing to do is to count at least 15 chews before I swallow, just to make myself more conscious of how long it takes to break down the food properly. Another trick is to practice putting your cutlery down and sitting back in your chair in between bites, naturally keeping you from loading up your fork while you’re still busy chewing. Eating more slowly will also help you notice when you’re starting to feel full, and help you avoid overeating. Find what works for you and keep practicing it – your tummy will be much happier for it!

4. Listen

Now that you’ve finished eating, how does your body feel? Send your awareness down to your belly and feel into any shifts or new sensations. Are you feeling energized and satisfied, sluggish and uncomfortable, or wired and jittery? If you’re not feeling your best, can you pinpoint any particular ingredient that’s caused you discomfort in the past? Pay attention to these signals - it’s your body trying to tell you something. A week of food journaling can be incredibly insightful when it comes to understanding how your body reacts to certain foods, and is a great way to be conscious of unwelcome patterns that creep up (like the seemingly innocent 3pm chocolate bar or second coffee).

Eating mindfully not only helps us understand how our body responds to the food we choose to eat, it also gives us the space to give our food the love and gratitude it deserves for being so energising and delicious.

What does mindful eating look like in your world? Which is your favourite tip? Let us know in the comments below!

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