What is mindful eating and how do you do it?

by Sanjeev Kapoor

2020 is finally over and we cannot be more relieved than this. Though it’s a brand new year the enthusiasm about eating healthy and staying fit still continues to be in a rage. With this extremely tech-savvy era, people are so busy and caught up doing other things that they have literally forgotten to prioritize one of the most important things in life – FOOD. Well, not food per se, but this generation excels at multitasking – munching while driving, texting while lunching or watching a favourite show while having a meal? This is a common problem in today’s era. Lack of awareness and attention while eating can cause more health problems than you think. Plus, thanks to the pandemic, the WFH routine is an add-on which has resulted in bad snacking habits, odd eating hours and working while eating too.

Do you even remember what you ate a while ago? Not really! That’s probably ‘cuz you didn’t pay enough attention to it. Forget the taste, you didn’t even feel a sensation while you were literally gobbling it down because you were too busy doing something alongside. That’s where mindful eating comes into the picture. Let’s learn in-depth about it.

What exactly does it mean?

‘Your body is a temple and you should worship it.’ This statement is very rightly mentioned in the Bible. Mindful eating is all about mindfulness, being attentive to what you’re eating, buying, serving or preparing when it comes to food. When you do this, eating becomes an experience and you can control your cravings and take cues as to when to stop or start eating. Mindful eating has helped in curing many diseases like depression, anxiety and other disorders. It also helps you differentiate between actual and emotional hunger. When you are observant while eating, you consider the kind of food you’re eating and whether or not it benefits you, which also results in making informed eating choices on a regular basis.

How to practice mindful eating?

1. Slow and steady, still wins the race!

Do not hurry. Eating slowly without any distraction is the key to mindful eating. Let your body communicate what it really needs and what it doesn’t. When you slow down, the body gets a chance to level up with the brain and gets the satiation signal. Chewing the food 32 times wasn’t such a bad idea after all! And, it all comes down to preventing you from overeating.

2. Look for the ‘signals’

We tend to eat when we’re hungry, sad, emotional, happy, moody, frustrated, etc. Stop this! Responding to emotional hunger rather than the physical one can result in common eating disorders. Eat only when you feel hungry and avoid responding to the emotional hunger signals. Feeling low on energy? Signal to eat! Feel your stomach snarling? Eat, eat and eat!

3. Let your food engage your senses

Make sure to pay attention to the food on your plate. Look for colours, smell your food, enjoy the textures, flavours, etc. When all your senses are engaged, you attain 100% satisfaction from the food you consume which is a part of mindful eating. It also avoids distraction while eating and makes you more concentrated towards your meal.

4. Eat what’s better for you

One of the very important aspects of mindful eating is ‘what are you eating?’ While most aspects are concerned with the ‘how’ and ‘why’ bit, the ‘what’ part is equally essential. Nowadays, we tend to binge on junkies, but when you are practising mindful eating, you also make sure that the food is benefitting you in some way and helping you reach your nutritional goal. The goal should be more focused on overall well-being.

5. Appreciate the food

Eating mindfully also involves appreciation and connecting with the food you’re eating. Take a breath and express silent gratitude towards the people who have played a part in bringing the food to your table. Also, appreciate the company that you’re eating with. Try to enjoy and make ‘eating’ a memorable experience. Gratitude is all you need!

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.