The Many Benefits of Mindful Eating

Improve Your Relationship With Food

When I first went to dinner with my in-laws, I was struck by something unexpected. My father-in-law savored every bite.

Every. Single. Bite.

Not only was he slow, chewing each bit more than I could calculate, but he talked about his food in ways I had never heard before. He savored each bite, and his senses were on high alert.

 

“One should eat to live, not live to eat.” –Moliere

 

I was raised in a house where you had to eat fast, or you were left with what no one wanted.

My father-in-law was raised in an environment where food was scarce. He once told me that when any of his friends were eating an apple, someone would yell, “Coresies!” That meant that he was able to eat the core of the apple. He told me that, if they liked you, they would leave you some of the apple instead of only having seeds. Throughout his life, he demonstrated an appreciation for every person he interacted with, for every bite of food, and for every day. When he told me this story, I got a glimpse into why and how he developed such an appreciation.

Today, few would dream of eating the core of an apple, especially one already chewed up.

 

Appreciate Every Moment

My father-in-law was practicing something without knowing it. It’s the practice of mindful eating.

It’s a practice that first came to my attention when I saw my friend Jude at a conference. He had lost weight and was healthier than ever. I wanted to know what he was doing. Turns out, he read a book about mindful eating by Vietnamese Monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Savor, Mindful Eating, Mindful Life somehow changed his relationship with food.

 

“Mindful eating is very pleasant. We sit beautifully. We are aware of the people surrounding us. We are aware of the food on our plates. This is a deep practice.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Benefits of Mindful Eating

Some of the benefits of mindful eating:

  • Reduce stress
  • Increase enjoyment
  • Easier digestion
  • Reduce calories
  • Lose weight
  • Less binge eating
  • Control food instead of it controlling you
  • Enjoy the moment
  • Reduced food cravings

 

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” –Jim Rohn

 

7 Techniques

There are many techniques to mindful eating. Here are a few to share:

  1. Shop smart. It starts before the meal. Don’t shop when you are hungry. Stay on the outside of the store where the fresh food is kept.
  2. Remove processed foods from your home.
  3. Slow down. You’ll often find that you end up eating less.
  4. Take notes. Enjoy your meal like it’s a wine tasting. It forces you to notice subtle flavors and textures you otherwise may miss.
  5. Savor. This is a byproduct of slowing down. Really take the time to enjoy each bite and the flavor and the combination you experience.
  6. Tune out. Try tuning the world out when you eat. Eat in silence. If that is impossible, tune out everything else for a brief moment. Stop reading (difficult for me) and stop watching television. Remove distractions.
  7. Tune in. Let every sense tune in to the food experience. The texture, the utensils, the presentation, the color. Every aspect of the food should be noticeable.

 

“Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” -Hippocrates

 

Try It Today

Try mindful eating. It’s part of the practice of mindfulness. My friend Matt Tenney’s book teaches the many techniques that help leaders practice it throughout the day. Though it’s not always an easy practice for someone who is a driven, type-A executive, I can attest to its many benefits.

 

“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” -1 Cor. 10:13

 

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