Don’t You Mind Me: Mindful Eating

Here is a little story about my nephew, James. When he turned four he had one of those big family parties. After he made his wish and blew out the candles, it was time for ice cream cake! He took a nice big slice and proceeded to eat it with a tiny cocktail fork. Each forkful clung to the metal until some eventually spilled onto his plate. Well, of course, there were lots of “helpful adults” on hand to tell him, “You don’t eat ice cream cake with that.” To which he replied without missing a beat, “Don’t you mind me.” and promptly took his cake to eat with his more like-minded cousins. He was hilarious! But now I have to think, was he also wise?

Food is sensory and is meant to be experienced. Want a fun fact? Studies show that we eat less when we hear ourselves chew. (Brigham Young University) It’s a little weird, but it also makes sense.

So what is mindful eating? Mindful eating is an approach to eating that can be a very useful habit to establish on a weight loss journey. Harvard University’s research has shown that “mindful eating can lead to greater psychological wellbeing, increased pleasure when eating, and body satisfaction.” All I know is that when I eat something mindfully, I savor food rather than just consume it.

Sometimes I feel like a hungry lion too.

My present goal for mindful eating is to eat one thing a day mindfully. I don’t think I am ready for a whole meal this way, but I can say – I do enjoy it. I imagine where the almonds were harvested, or I name the sweet and sour notes in my Greek yogurt. Sometimes I look closely at the pistils of a raspberry in contrast to its deep red color. Here is what I try to do to set it up:

  • Be intentional with how I feel when I sit down to eat.
  • Limit outside distractions and make eating an experience.
  • As I eat focus on the sounds I make, name the colors of the food, inhale the smells, and experience the textures on my tongue.

As I close this post and Think back on my hilarious and wise nephew, James, the kid was onto something. There is no right way to eat something you really enjoy. For him, maybe that cocktail fork added a lot to the whole aesthetic of eating ice cream cake. It might be time to lose the “rules” when it comes to food, and just get carried away with the experience of eating food I really enjoy.

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