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Embracing Mindful Eating – A Personal Journey and Professional Insight

Let’s talk about mindful eating, a journey I’m currently navigating. Full disclosure – I’m the person who finishes their meal before others have barely started. But, I’m learning, and I want to share some insights to help us both on a journey of mindfully eating.

A study that particularly struck a chord with me is the “Effects of a Mindfulness-Based Weight Loss Intervention” from the SHINE Trial. This research explored how mindfulness, including mindful eating, significantly improved psychological well-being among adults with obesity. Participants who practiced mindfulness experienced increases in positive emotions and decreases in anxiety and depression, emphasizing the long-term benefits of a mindful approach to eating and overall health. This isn’t just about weight loss; it’s about fostering a healthier relationship with food and ourselves.

I recently came across an NPR article, “Wolfing down your meals? Here’s how to slow down and eat more mindfully,” that was incredibly insightful with wonderful action items to create a more mindful practice. Lilian Cheung from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shared some fantastic tips, including taking at least 20 minutes for a meal, avoiding distractions like phones, and actually chewing the food to aid digestion. Sounds simple, right? But for someone who’s usually done in under 5, it’s a game-changer.

The Five Contemplations: A Guiding Light

One practice I’ve begun to embrace is reciting “The Five Contemplations” by Thích Nhất Hanh before meals. This mindfulness practice focuses on gratitude, moderation, compassion, and the interconnectedness of our food choices with the larger world. Here they are:

“This food is the gift of the Earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and much hard work and loving work.”

“May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive this food.”

“May we recognize and transform unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed, and learn to eat with moderation.”

“May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that reduces the suffering of living beings, stops contributing to climate change, and heals and preserves our precious planet.”

“We accept this food so that we may nurture our brotherhood and sisterhood, our family, and realize our ideal of serving all human beings.”

"The Five Contemplations," outlined in his book Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life

You can learn more about these practices in the book “Savor: Mindful Eating, Mundful Life” by Thich Nhat Hanh and nutritionist Dr. Lilian Cheung

Mindful Eating in Action: Small Changes, Big Differences

As I practice mindful eating, I’ve noticed a shift not just in how I eat but also in how I perceive food. It’s no longer just about satiating hunger rapidly and moving on to the next task; it’s about experiencing the meal, acknowledging the effort and resources that went into preparing it, and understanding its impact on my body and the environment.

Implementing the tips from Cheung and the philosophy of Thích Nhất Hanh can be transformative. I’m commiting to engaging my senses to appreciate the flavors and textures, and most importantly, putting my phone away. It is a 2024 goal of mine to practice stillness and intention. It’s incredible how much more you can enjoy a meal when you’re not scrolling through emails or social media!

Wrap-Up: A Mindful Eating Lifestyle

This journey towards mindful eating is ongoing. I anticipate a a deeper understanding and appreciation of food, its sources, and its effects. I encourage everyone to give it a try – start small, maybe with just one meal a day, and notice the difference it makes. 

So, are you a speedy eater like me? Have you tried mindful eating? Let’s discuss in the comments below – I’d love to hear your experiences and insights!

Remember, it’s not just about eating slower, but eating smarter and with intention.

Happy Mindful Eating! 🌿🍽️✨

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