Image: @hanajirickova by @alique_photography for Vogue Paris.
New York registered dietitian nutritionist and yoga instructor Stacy Leung gives us the lowdown.
It is likely that at some point in our lives we were told to be more “mindful” or “present”. Being mindful allows our overly active minds and bodies to stop, slow down, and sync up on the same wavelength. The powerful tool of mindfulness benefits many areas of life, like eating.
Mindful mealtimes mean turning off all distractions. This means not splitting your attention between your meal and your phone, television, computer, tablet, book, or work.
Spending focused time with your food and yourself can:
Help tap into your hunger and fullness cues, preventing overeating.
Most of us are conditioned to clean our plates, which distances our ability to detect how hungry we are and when we’re actually full. Limiting distractions can give us the power to retrain our mind and body to work together and connect to our gut. For example, we may notice that every day is different and the amount of food needed to satiate us varies. We may also realize that feeling full doesn’t have to involve a stomach ache and that fatigue can be a sign of hunger.
Give yourself a break and reflect.
When we are so preoccupied with other things we can forget a part of ourselves. Sometimes we know it’s time to eat because of the time of day but we don’t take a moment to reflect on how our day impacted our thoughts, feelings, or physical self at the time of the meal. Taking a brief moment before digging can shift your mood during mealtime and thereafter, almost like a soft-reset to the day.
Allow yourself to savor the moment.
Looking forward to a meal is different from actually being present while eating. We can be in anticipation for days for something and not actually remember what the actual tastes, aromas, and textures were. Giving time and attention to the meal can bring more gratitude and appreciation for those who have helped prepare the food as well as clearer memories of the meal itself.
Strengthen your craving detecting capabilities.
Having a mysterious craving and not knowing how to satisfy it, is like having an itch and not knowing where to scratch. Take a moment to ask yourself what you really want and what will bring you joy. It can make the biggest difference in conquering your craving. Give yourself permission to have a craving, accept it for what it is, and actually taste and savor every moment of that food.
Being mindful during mealtimes brings our mind and body back into focus and working together on the same page. It empowers us to make honest decisions about the foods we eat and assessments about our thoughts and emotions. While it might be hard to separate yourself from the screen at every meal, choosing to do so once a week to practice mindful eating can strengthen all these aspects and lead to a healthier wellbeing.
Stacy is a New York based registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and yoga instructor focusing on mindful eating and plant-based health. She has experience working with individuals and families from a variety of cultural backgrounds, including adolescents and pregnant women. Taking a holistic approach by looking at overall lifestyle, she believes everything can fit when it’s kept simple, honest, and joyful.