We speed through our day on automatic pilot. Often grab food as we go and rarely take the time to process what we are eating mindfully and with purpose!
Mindful eating is now being talked about everywhere. We are being urged to look at how we eat and to appreciate the intense colours, the flavours and the way that food changes our moods and our feelings towards ourselves.
Mind mental health charity has developed a food and mood PDF which offers insight into what foods are good for which mood related disorders. New links are being made in the area of food science everyday and many health therapists, coaches and advisors talk about food being the “best medicine”.
There are also many links between gut health and our brains capacity to function at its best. Eating processed food is now being linked to low moods and high anxiety. Everyday new research, articles and discussions are being unsurfaced and this is changing the way that we look at food.
But…. have you ever stopped to take a breath, truly appreciate and focus on what you eat? How it feels, smells, tastes and looks?
In one recent mindfulness experiment that I took part in, we were asked to hold a popular chocolate and to smell it. We were then asked to watch how the colour and shine changes as we hold it. Next step was to place it on our tongues and hold it there. It felt as though it fizzed a little. Then the crunch! One big bite down and slowly chewing it! The taste was so intense and for me, actually was too intense! I realised for the first time that I don’t like this particular chocolate! This was such a strange feeling as up until now, I could happily destroy a box of these while watching a film without even thinking about it. Now I didn’t like the sweetness, the aftertaste and feeling that it left me with!
I was so shocked by this! How had I not realised this before? How many other foods do I eat without really exploring my relationship with them?
I then went home and held a strawberry. I looked at the bright natural colours, the shape and texture. I smelt it, held it on my tongue and then slowly ate it! The taste was so fresh and sweet and beautiful! The aftertaste was pure and it totally dealt with any sweet craving that I had. I realised that this was my new reward and it left me feeling so much better!
Somewhere along the line I had been taught that a reward was a sugary chocolate treat! I wonder what my eating habits may have been like if as a child I was raised to be given strawberries or mango as an after dinner sweet treat?
What would my relationship with food and mood be like today?
This is a great experiment with young people! Choose a food and during an exercise, ask young people to take their time exploring how food looks, feels, smells, tastes, sounds like and leaves you feeling afterwards!
Explore their experiences and inquire into their feelings around food. explore any changes or new thought around their food habits!
Mindful eating can make such a difference to our relationship with food and can improve our mental and physical health too!
Take the test yourself! Choose a food and go for it!