Mindful Eating Awakens Us To Life’s Sensual Delights

The concept of mindful eating is gaining popularity as more and more Americans realize that today's self-imposed hectic lifestyles are robbing us of the physical and psychological benefits of sitting down to enjoy a healthy meal. Many people think they don't have time to savor their food. But mindful eating is not about FINDING the time; it's about MAKING the time. Both the length and the quality of your life depend on your ability to experience each day in a mindful way and that extends to your relationship with food.

Mindful eating, also known as conscious eating, requires us to listen to our body's internal cues about hunger and fullness. This allows us to understand at a core level what and when we need to eat. One of the key components of mindful eating is heightened awareness. Many people eat while doing other things, such as watching TV, working on the computer, reading a book or talking on the phone. When that occurs it is impossible to focus on the quality of the meal and it is also easy to lose track of how much is being consumed.

During the holiday season it is particularly important to practice mindful eating, because food tends to play a central role in social activities. Some people may even feel undue pressure to taste everything to avoid being considered rude or unappreciative. When holiday party tables are covered with a multitude of food choices, it can be difficult to slow down and savor any particular dish.

By learning to pause and become more aware of the simple act of eating you will nourish both your body and your soul. Following are some guidelines for mindful eating:

"Listen to your body and learn to honor its hunger and satiety signals. Learn to value quality instead of quantity.
"Eat slowly. Try putting down your eating utensils after each bite and don't pick them up again until you swallow.
"Identify emotional triggers. Many people use food to deal with depression, anger or even joy. Understand the emotions that prevent you from practicing mindful eating.
"Don't multitask: Eating should be an event in itself. When it is combined with other activites our bodies become distracted and have trouble identifying the signs of fullness.
"Enjoy the sensual aspects of eating: Savor each morsel. Focus on presentation and how the food looks and smells. Observe the unique textures each dish has to offer.
"Be grateful: Develop a sense of gratitude for the food that blesses your table.

Once you begin the practice of mindful eating, you will find that the concept of "mindfulness" spills over to other areas in your life. You will be more motivated to "live in the moment" and savor the many sensual pleasures that life has to offer. Practice mindful living so that you can fully embrace the simple joys of the holiday season.

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