Conscious eating is the act of paying close attention to all the details surrounding what you eat while you are eating. It is being conscious about what you eat. As for me, I love the concept because it is the solution to my obesity which was caused by unhealthy eating habit.
If not for conscious eating, I would never have found out that stress was one of the feelings that triggered my urge to eat. Eating became a combination of addiction and obsession for me. My case was critical as I was gaining weight quickly. I heard a lot of dangers of my eating habit but I could not just imagine changing my diet and not being able to eat whatever I wanted in the quantity I wanted. So, I zeroed my mind about healthy eating and weight loss “crap”.
The concept of conscious eating or mindful eating changed my whole life. With conscious eating, it was very easier to change my diet and begin to eat better. Conscious eating originated from Buddhist teachings. Just like you can meditate on your thoughts and breath, Buddhist teachers teach their students how to meditate with food. They are expected to expand their consciousness by paying attention to the feelings that surround each spoon of food.
Why is conscious eating good of you?
There are several major benefits of conscious eating. It helps you to understand the short term and long term effects of each food on your body. Once you are able to understand all the feelings that surround your eating habit, you will have more control over the urge to eat anything.
If you have a serious urge to eat any type of food and you think the food has a negative effect on your body, you can control the urge by either killing off the urge or by bringing up the kind of satisfaction you derive from the food. This way, you will feel as though you have already had enough of the food.
The big picture here is that conscious eating helps you eat right and remain healthy. In my case, I will first identify the root of the urge to eat anything. If it is something I really don’t want to eat, I will curb the urge from the root. If it is out of boredom, I will simply get busy. If it is the taste I am actually longing for, I can eat something else and manipulate the taste. It is all in the mind. With conscious eating, you can drink a bottle of water and make it taste like a bottle of your favorite soda in your mouth, thereby killing the urge to drink soda.
5 things to look out for when eating
The most important 5 things to look out for will help you to control or resist the urge to eat what you think is not healthy. Here are what you should look out for.
What are the feelings that trigger the urge to eat certain food? And when you eventually get to eat it, what is the pleasure you derive from? Is it in the taste or is it in the quench of your hunger? It is when you understand this that you can control the urge
How healthy is the food? You also need to find out how healthy the food is. What are its positive effects on your body and what are its negative effects (if any)?
You need to observe the taste, smell and look of each kind of food. This is because it is usually the combination of these three qualities that attracts you to each of your favorite food.
You need to take note of exactly how you feel when you taste it, chew it, swallow it and digest it.
Finally, you need to understand exactly how you feel after eating each food. This will help you simulate such feelings whenever the need arises.
How do we practice it in our busy lives?
This can be divided into two parts. The first part is based on how to practice conscious eating and the second part is based on the application of the knowledge. This is because conscious eating is a mere means to an end. Its benefits are in the application.
To practice conscious eating you can follow the tips below
Take the time to eat slowly and pause after each spoon or morsel
As you eat, you observe every feeling that comes with the food. Observe the taste while chewing the food. What kind of pleasure do you derive? What kind of urge is the taste easing? After chewing the food slowly, you will eventually swallow it. After swallowing the food, you need to take note of how you feel. How is it different from the feeling you got while chewing. Could any food have given you more pleasure at that given time?
It is important that you take note of the feelings. You also need to understand that you can’t get all the feelings with just one meal. You need to cultivate the habit. It may be difficult initially especially when you are very hungry. It will be difficult to resist the urge to devour the food in no time. But with time, you will master the art. In fact, it will get to a time that you will begin to enjoy it.
Eat in silence
You need to be silent. This will help you observe more about the food and about the environment. You also need to remove any other thought from your mind. Focus your mind on what you are eating. You need 100 percent concentration on this. It is advisable that you eat alone during this period or eat with people that are also practicing conscious eating.
While eating, prevent all forms of distractions by switching off your phone and the TV
You need to stay away from all forms of distractions. You can’t achieve 100 percent concentration with distractions here and there. You might need to soundproof your walls so that outside noise does not distract you. The high level of concentration involved in conscious eating is the reason people link it to Yoga.
Pay close attention to the taste, smell, look and flavor
Apart from the pleasure you derive, you should also pay attention to the taste, smell, look and flavor. It is the aroma of certain food that attracts you much more than other qualities. Besides, all of them work together. The more you understand why you crave for them the more you will be able to resist the urge.
Know the nutritional values of your food and its negative effects too
It is advisable to take note of the nutritional values of all your meals and their negative effects. The whole idea behind conscious eating is to promote your craving for healthy foods and kill your appetite for unhealthy foods. How can you differentiate healthy foods from unhealthy ones? It is when you know the nutritional values and the negative effects of all the foods you eat. This is very important.