Day 18: Have a Distraction-Free Meal
A Gratitude Exercise
We always seem to be in a rush or so connected to our technology that we forget to pay attention during meal times. Before we know it, our plate of food is gone and we barely even remember what we put on it.
Today we’re going to try to bring our attention back to the plate, and away from the distractions to give a meal (and your body) the attention it deserves.
The Goal of Today's Challenge
The ultimate goal for today’s challenge is to practice something called mindful eating, which we’ll talk more about in this blog post.
When we’re distracted and remove ourselves from the act of eating, we lose our ability to notice how our mind and body feels while eating. And so we’re gettin’ our noses out of our technology and onto our plates!
What is Mindful Eating?
- Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom.
- Using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body.
- Acknowledging responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral) without judgment.
- Becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating.
Putting these thoughts into practice can help you tremendously remove any negative emotions or emotional dependency we’ve built around eating, as well as becoming aware of our physical reactions.
What are the Benefits of Mindful Eating?
Did you know that mindful eating is a type of meditation?
We already know the many benefits of meditation, and so it should come as no surprise that mindful eating has a whole host of benefits, too.
But even if you don’t suffer from any of these conditions, mindful eating can be very helpful in allowing us to pay attention to our body’s hunger and fullness cues.
Mindful eating is all about slowing down and paying attention to the flavors, the smells, the textures, our reactions, our emotions, and more. Eating this way increases your awareness of true physical hunger versus emotional hunger.
By eating mindfully, you restore your attention and slow down, making eating an intentional act instead of an automatic one. – Heathline
It’s also a great way to recognize what does trigger emotional hunger so that you can start to take steps towards thinking about how to react rather than automatically acting upon impulse in triggering situations.
6 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating
1. Slow Down
Remember that ol’ fun fact that states it takes a person about 20 minutes to feel fullness? Well, turns out that it’s actually true.
“It’s not until that food gets into the stomach and into the gut that it starts to release satiety hormones which feed back to the brain to tell us we’re full… [which takes] somewhere between five and 20 minutes.” – Zane Andrews, associate professor of physiology and neuroscientist at Monash University
2. Get to Know Your Body's Own Hunger and Fullness Cues
It’s important to listen to your fullness cues before overstuffing yourself. Feeling sick from food is just not a great feeling both emotionally and physically.
This doesn’t just include paying attention at meal times, but also throughout the day. Make sure that you don’t let yourself get overly hungry otherwise it’s harder to enjoy the meal because your body needs food fast.
Remember, every single day is different and you’ll feel hungrier on some days and not so hungry on other days. And that is completely normal. Your body is smart and will give you the signs you need to nourish and flourish.
*Pro tip: use this handy hunger and fullness scale I created to understand where your hunger is at. It can helpful to refer to this as you’re beginning to ease into mindful eating practice.
3. Create a Mindful Kitchen
Transform your kitchen into more of a meditative area. Ok, I don’t actually mean lighting candles on every shelf and hanging up a tapestry, but rather associating the kitchen as a place of nourishment and fun (a tapestry is a fire hazard anyways).
If we’re constantly having bad experiences in the kitchen, our brain starts to associate that pattern of events with the area. And so the kitchen starts to become a toxic and triggering place and we definitely don’t want this to happen!
4. Check in with Your Motivations and Emotions
The main point of this method is to check in with yourself before you reach for some food. And to be honest, this is one that I’ve always found to be easier said than done.
Are you upset and wanting to quell your emotions with the temporary gratification of food? Or you are you truly hungry? Again, you can refer to the hunger and fullness scale I created to help you recognize physical hunger.
*Note: it’s totally fine to eat something when you’re not hungry because you want to try something you’ve baked, someone is offering you food, you’re just craving something, or something along those lines. It’s just important to notice the differences and feel confident and in control of the situation. It gets to be tricky when the food starts control you.
5. Make a Soulful Connection with Your Dish
If you can take the time to cook your meals*, definitely do it! Cooking can be such a great way to make a special and fun connection with your dishes. Hopefully, it’ll encourage you to also be more mindful when you’re eating it because you’re proud of your dish and you have more motivation to savor it.
If you don’t have time to cook, meal prep* with your favorite options for you to choose from throughout the week. This will keep things interesting and mealtime can be something you look forward to!
*This is an affiliate link from Nutriciously.com and so I do get commission if you end up purchasing anything from the link. However, I wouldn’t condone any products or business without trying it myself and loving it. Any commission I get goes towards improving this website and putting out content!
6. Make a Date with Your Plate
Get rid of all the distractions and make it just you and your plate — and this is exactly what today’s challenge is all about.
Feel free to have someone else join in on the challenge if you need some support, but keep the talk centered around how the dish makes you feel, the different spices you can taste, and the textures of the food.
This practice can help remind you in the future when you’re getting distracted to slow down and pay attention to your plate again.
Food for Thought
Hopefully these tips helps you take steps towards mindful eating! Are there any tips I missed? Which tip is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!