Mindfulness is a form of meditation that teaches you to be present at the moment, in full awareness of your emotions and physical sensations. Therefore, in essence, mindful eating is a practice in which you pay full attention to the experiences, cravings and physical cues while eating food.
Mindful eating has been known to treat many health conditions, such as eating disorders, depression, anxiety and various-food related behaviours. Therefore, dietitians and doctors all over the world recommend people to practise mindful eating. However, it is not a new concept. Ayurveda has been talking about conscious or mindful eating for thousands of years. Let’s know more about mindful eating from the lenses of Ayurveda.
The Science Behind Mindful Eating
Ayurveda says that digestion is closely linked to the way you eat your food. The quality of your digestion depends on the mind, environment and emotions you experience while eating.
According to Ayurveda, your brain needs about 20 minutes to register the process of having eaten and digested the food. Therefore, if you do not eat consciously, your brain feels that you haven’t eaten anything. As a result, even though you have enough food in your stomach, you may soon feel hungry again and overeat. Overeating, in return, may lead to many health problems, such as diabetes, obesity, weight gain, etc.
The Many Benefits of Mindful Eating
If you think that mindful eating only benefits digestion, you are wrong. There are many unsung benefits of mindful eating, such as:
- Mindful eating helps reduce stress and anxiety while making you more aware of your emotions and feelings.
- Mindful eating is a type of meditation. Therefore, practising mindful eating every day can help improve your focus and concentration.
- It helps deal with chronic eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia. Anorexia is an eating disorder in which people tend to refuse food, and bulimia is a disorder in which people eat food excessively and then vomit it out.
- Your emotions affect the food you eat. Therefore, stress can often cause overeating. Mindful eating helps you be aware of your emotional state and prevent overeating.
- Mindful eating also helps reduce unnecessary food cravings, such as the ones that occur when you see someone eating food or you are getting bored.
- Mindful eating promotes healthy weight loss. It helps you choose better food for your body, improve the digestive process and avoid overeating.
How To Practice Mindful Eating?
- Take a few deep breaths and appreciate the health value of the food you are eating.
- Employ all your senses into the process of eating and observe the subtle signs and emotions you experience.
- Tune into your intentions and see if you are eating because you are hungry or you are feeling bored.
- Take a bite and notice the taste, texture and emotions you feel while eating it. Put all your focus and concentration on that bite.
- Eat slowly and pay close attention to all the signals of your body.
- Focus on the shift in your experience with each bite. Take your time, understand if you are truly satisfied. Do not rush the experience.
- Give gratitude to the food you are eating, and be mindful of the origin of your food.
Ayurvedic Tips to Practice Mindful Eating the Right Way
Pay Attention To Hunger Signals:
Ayurveda asks you to recognise the signals sent by your body and eat only when you feel hungry. Your body will send hunger signals only when your previous meal is fully digested. It will help you avoid unnecessary snacking and eating unconsciously.
Choose a Calm and Peaceful Atmosphere
The place where you eat food should be calm, peaceful and comfortable, without any disturbance such as noise coming from television, music, talking or reading. Otherwise, it may induce anxiety and restlessness and can hinder the process of mindful eating. Eating with your loved ones is excellent as it can create a cheerful atmosphere around you.
Don’t Feed Your Emotions
Stress and anxiety can trigger food cravings. Understand the difference between actual hunger and emotional cravings and avoid eating food according to your emotions.
Use All Your Five Senses
All five senses are essential to register the intake of food in your body and mind. Take your time to appreciate the smell, colour, texture and taste of your food.
Eat What Your Body Needs
What you eat also influences how you eat. Therefore, choose your food according to Ayurvedic guidelines. Eat food according to your Dosha and consume nourishing food that contains Prana or life force energy. Also, try to incorporate all the six tastes, viz sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent. It will help send the correct signals to the brain and avoid food cravings.
Know When To Stop
According to Ayurveda, you should eat enough to satiate your hunger. However, it does not mean that you should eat till your stomach starts to burst. The Ayurvedic rule of eating says that half of your stomach should be filled with solid foods, one-fourth with water and one-fourth with air. One of the best signs to know when your stomach is three-quarters full is burp, which you can only understand if you are practising mindful eating.
On a Final Note
Mindful eating is a healthy Ayurvedic eating practice that helps connect your body, mind and soul to your food. It plays a key role in preventing many diseases and disorders in your body and creating a health consciousness in your life.