Mindful eating starts with presence. To be mindful you need to be completely focused on what is happening in the present moment. While you are eating there are things that you can do to make staying in the present moment a lot easier such as removing distractions, eating slowly, savoring your meal, and making eating feel like an experience. Ultimately presence helps you to learn new things about yourself and gives you control over the food that you eat. Being present is not an easy thing to pick up because your mind will constantly drift while you are trying to focus. But with practice, you can always be present and conscious while you are eating.
Mindfulness is all about being present and bringing your full awareness to the current moment. Presence is one of the core components of mindfulness.
Presence is the process by which your attention is completely focused on your awareness in the current moment. When we are present we are more alert, more focused, and experience a deeper sense of fulfillment.
Being present helps us to remove the anxiety that we feel when we worry about the past or the future. We can't control the things that happened in the past or that will happen in the future but we can control what we feel and what we do in the present moment. The lack of control is the whole reason anxiety exists in the first place.
Being present helps us specifically when we are eating and mindful eating is all about being present while you are eating. There are certain benefits that you get when you focus on being present while eating:
Being present is necessary for Mindful Eating. Studies show when people eat distracted they are more likely to eat more, gain more weight, and have less enjoyment of food. Being present while eating helps you to stay completely mindful whenever you want to.
Distractions are things that take your focus away from whatever you are currently doing. When we remove our attention from the meal in front of us we cannot be present. How many times have you just had a meal but can't remember how it tasted? It is probably because you were distracted while you were eating. Without distractions, you can focus completely on your meal, meals taste better, and meals become more memorable. Remove all of the distractions in your environment before you start eating so you can focus solely on the meal that is right in front of you. Turn off the TV and try not to use your phone at all while eating.
To be present while eating we need to be completely aware of all of the thoughts and feelings that we have when we eat. It takes time for you to notice a change in your body while you are eating. When we eat our meals too quickly we cannot properly read signals that our body tells us. Feeling full, sick, or satisfied is not an instant feeling that you feel after every bite. For example, it takes the average person 20 minutes after eating to feel full. To be present while you eat means to eat slowly so you can know exactly how you feel.
When you start slowing down when you eat you will notice that food will start to taste better. While you are present take the time to savor what you are eating. Fully chew your food before swallowing it. Take smaller and smaller bites. Notice all the different types of flavors that are in the meal that you are eating and notice how it makes you feel.
Taste is not the only sense that we use when we eat. We use all of our senses whenever we eat something. If food does not look appetizing to us it will affect the way that the food will taste when we eat it. Food that we can hear sizzling on a plate are more appetizing to us. Some people like food more if there is a nice crunch when they take their first bite. When we catch a whiff of food that smells great our mouth instantly starts watering and we feel more hungry than we were before. All these small details matter and it takes presence to notice them. Try to establish an eating routine that brings you into the present moment before you eat. Make eating a social thing. While eating with others talk about the food that you are eating.
Once you start practicing all of the previous four tips in this list you start to become more conscious of the unconscious eating habits that you never even knew you had. Being present while eating is not a very common thing. You have to be intentional with presence to start doing it consistently. When you finally start becoming present while you eat you will learn a lot of new things about yourself. Maybe there is some food that you have been eating for a long time that makes you feel after eating and you never knew it because you haven't been noticing it. There might be a certain food that you eat only when you are emotional. Maybe you have been eating a lot more than you need to actually be full. Learning about your own behaviors is what mindful eating is all about.
One of the biggest barriers to mindfulness is the feeling that people are doing it wrong. One of the things that makes it difficult is the feeling that people cannot focus on just one thing because their minds will drift to thinking about something else.
The truth is that it is just another part of the meditation practice. Very few people on this earth are able to keep their minds on a single topic for a long period of time. A wandering mind is actually a healthy thing. An article from the University of California Berkeley states that "mind wandering can help people improve their ability to focus. "
The entire purpose of presence is to notice moments when your mind wanders so you can bring your focus back to the thing that you need to focus on. It is also like a muscle where the more you practice bringing the focus back from a wandering mind the better you get at it.
The first few times that you practice trying to stay present you might be dealing with a wandering mind where you will start to focus on other things. This is supposed to happen. The more that you practice getting your focus back into the present moment the better you will be at it.