How to Practice Mindful Nourishment
This past year was FULL. There were many highs, a few lows, small victories, and an abundance of personal growth. We both completed dietetic internships, passed the board exam to become registered dietitians, and began jobs as clinical dietitians. It was an exciting year, and we are looking forward to what this next year will bring!
We are welcoming this year with open, compassionate hearts, and striving to infuse more mindfulness into everything that we do. Naturally, mindful nourishment is a passion of ours. You may have heard the term “mindful eating” in the context of dieting or weight loss, but we invite you to re-frame your perspective.
Mindful nourishment is being present, active, and reflective throughout your entire eating experience, from the foods you select, to your practice of eating it, to how it made you feel during and afterwards. Channeling curiosity rather than judgment, mindful nourishment takes time and practice, but will enable you to become a more conscientious and present eater. Our hope for you is that food is not a source of stress or used as a form of punishment. Eating should be a positive experience and can empower you to live a life that brings you joy.
We are sharing our six tips for mindful nourishment below, but we’d also love to hear from you. How do you infuse eating experiences with mindfulness? Comment below to share your tips and tricks with the Fully Nourished community!
Before you begin eating, take a moment to think about how the food before you made its way to your plate. Was it picked from the ground? Was it prepared by a loved one or a friendly faced stranger? Did the ingredients travel from a local farm or across an ocean? Reflect on the food, people, and resources that went in the nourishment you are about to receive, and give gratitude. Cultivating a sense of gratitude for the food before you helps to create a meaningful connection to your meal and the ways it may nourish your body, mind, and spirit.
Turn off the TV, soften the music, and put your phone away. We know the last one’s hard; take the picture for Instagram, then put it away! Sit in a chair, at a table, with your meal served on a real plate. Remove distractions and direct your full attention to the food before you. This may not feel comfortable at first, but through minimizing distractions, you provide yourself with the opportunity to tune into your eating experience. Over time, you will find that you feel nourished not only by the food you chose to eat, but by the experience of eating.
Before beginning your meal, take a few deep breaths and ground yourself in the moment. Bring your full attention to the food before you and perhaps the people around you. While you are eating, practice setting down your fork between bites, rather than continuously filling your fork with an anticipated next bite. This allows you to create a more vivid experience with the food you are eating, because you will be focused on the bite you are enjoying, rather than the next mouthful. It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that you are full. Slowing down can help you to eat what you are truly hungry for and bring yourself to a place where you feel full and satisfied versus feeling overly stuffed.
Use Your Senses.
Taste. Sight. Touch. Smell. Sound. Tune in to ALL of your senses when choosing, preparing, and eating your meal. Plate your food with attention to presentation; notice the sound your fork makes when it touches your food; make note of the various textures; and try to identify the spices used to flavor your dish. Each sense plays a critical role in how you experience a meal, and will enhance your eating experience if you allow it to.
Reflect without judgement. By using all of your senses during an eating experience, you can better reflect on the meal and its food components. What did you truly enjoy? What aspects of the meal would you do differently next time? Think not only about the food consumed, but how you ate it, the company you enjoyed it with, and how it made it feel afterwards. Use each reflection to guide future eating experiences and become more adept at mindful nourishment.
To bring your mindful nourishment full-circle, establish a meal-ending ritual to signal to your brain that the meal or snack is over. This could be enjoying a cup of tea, going for a walk around the block, reading a book, or curling up on the couch to watch your favorite TV show. This will help to define and separate your eating experiences as meaningful events in your day. You can move forward with a clear mind to other activities that bring you fulfillment and joy.
Where are you on your mindfulness journey?
We would love to know how you intentionally welcome mindfulness into your life and what that looks like for you. Comment below to share your favorite mindfulness strategies!
In health and happiness,
Alexandra Rae & Felicia Stewart