Did you pay attention to everything you brought to your mouth in the last 24 hours? If you did, I assure you the contents on this list might be surprising. Let’s just think about food for a moment and forget all other objects of desire. What kind of foods did you have, in what quantity and how did you combine them? Paying attention to what and how we eat is the best starting point for healthy weight. The most important benefit of eating consciously is that it allows us to realize what we do and discover the causes that drive our actions.
Why do we eat? To feed ourselves, of course. But we also do it to fill gaps, relieve anxiety, satiate emotional hunger or as a social excuse, among other reasons. Thus, a physiological event becomes a process that involves body, mind, and soul. If the mind takes control imposing its deeper patterns, within months, the body reflects all that has been consumed and the excessive weight is also reflected in the soul.
One of the most interesting comments I've heard in recent times is "You haven’t gained any weight!" As if this were an extraordinary accomplishment. The comment points to the recognition that many friends have expanded their bodies...by more than one size.
Is there a secret? No, I eat everything and sometimes in excess. I don’t have a miraculous metabolism and don’t go the gym. My recipe is simple: I pay attention to how I eat; I choose foods consciously; I observe my body’s sensations and pay attention to my emotions when it comes to eating. In other words, I apply a dose of mindfulness to the table.
Conscious eating means paying attention to food and select products that are good for us. We should also identify the emotions and thoughts behind the act of eating to recognize impulses that have nothing to do with hunger, and work them out far from the table. It also means being actively present as you eat to enjoy foods in moderation. It is not a regime, diet or calorie count. It is to realize what we do at every moment when we buy, cook and eat our food.
I would like to suggest this exercise that will help you practice mindful eating. First, when you go shopping, take a moment and think before filling the cart. Go slowly and notice the impulses that lead you to choose one food or another. Think of the impact they will have on your health. Before you leave, take a look to your cart. Are those the products you need to reach healthy weight?
When cooking take a moment to consider the best options. In many cases, we rush and opt for traditional or not-so-healthy recipes. Bear in mind that the way you cook those foods will determine your present and future health.
When eating, chew slowly! Get rid of the smartphone, turn off the TV, turn off your autopilot. Connect to the act of eating and listen to your body, because surely it will tell you when its appetite has been satisfied. At that time stop. Overeating will not bring more happiness—quite the contrary.
And finally, enjoy the pleasure of eating. Consciously! If you have a few days of feasts, banquets, and holidays, change speed and choose something lighter. This is something you may already know in your intellect, but don’t apply it to practice simply because you are not conscious, aware and present when it comes to eating.
Eli Bravo is the Managing Director and Chief Editor of Inspirulina, a Spanish content website with articles on wellness, personal growth and health. ■
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