Mindful Eating: Wait… Did I just eat that?

Oh the holidays! What a wonderful time of friends, family, and food!  How many of you have been in this situation? You’re at a Christmas party, there is food EVERYWHERE, people all around talking, laughing, drinking, having a good time.  You are enjoying the rush of holiday spirit and look down at your plate and realize you have downed five pigs in a blanket, a mountain of chips and dip, and there are still cookie crumbs on your face.  You know you had a full plate just a minute ago, but you can’t remember finishing any of it.

Unfortunately, this happens all too often, and not just at Christmas time.  I’ve been just as guilty of plopping myself in front of the TV for dinner and inhaling my meal without even remembering the taste of what was on my plate.  Or how about the mindless snacking that just seems to go hand in hand with surfing the internet?  What would Facebook-stalking your friends be without that endless bag of Doritos?  We have become a society that has gotten really good at multitasking, but multitasking while eating can be detrimental to your health.

Enter mindful eating.  Maybe you have heard/seen/read about this idea but never really gave much thought to it (pun intended there).  This idea has been picking up speed and support here in the United States for the past few years, but the practice of mindfulness has been around for much longer than that.  In Buddhist culture, they have been practicing the art of mindful eating for thousands of years.  So what is mindful eating exactly? In the simplest terms, it is being completely present and aware of everything that goes in to the act of sitting down and eating a meal.  Not just the taste of food, but the smell, the sight, the texture, and the ambiance around you.  It is really focusing on being in the moment, so to speak, with your food.

Now, I can see some of you rolling your eyes at the computer screen. “Great. She is one of THOSE people.  How long before she has us hugging trees and dancing around with scarves to advocate healthy eating?” No, I am not one of THOSE people, although there is nothing wrong with them and I do a pretty wicked healthy food scarf dance.  Mindful eating doesn’t have to be some crazy spiritual food experience to be helpful to you and your health.  There have been numerous studies and research products on the effects of mindful eating on a healthy diet.  And a lot of them have shown very positive results.

Over the next few posts, I want to go more into the principles of mindful eating as well as share some of my experiences with the practice.  It really has helped improve my health, and I was one of the skeptical ones when I first heard the idea (30 minutes to eat a banana? No thanks, get it in my belly asap).  But I now see the benefits and I think that you can reap those same benefits for yourself!

With that in mind (yup another pun) I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! Enjoy the time with your loved ones and bask in the glow of this wonderful season! And just maybe think before reaching for that fifth candy cane….

 

Merry Christmas from the Dawson's!

Merry Christmas from the Dawson’s!

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