Mindful Eating Can Expand Your Palate
Eating is a natural, healthy and a pleasurable activity for satisfying hunger.
However, in our food-abundant, diet-fuelled culture, eating often becomes a mindless, consuming and even guilt-inducing activity for some. It is an understatement to say that many people have a love-hate relationship with food.
What is the solution to enjoying not only the process of eating, but more foods in general? Mindful eating.
Mindful eating is very simple, yet it has numerous health benefits when practiced daily. It’s the act of eating withintention and attention. In other words, eating with the intention of caring for yourself; and eating with the attention necessary for noticing and enjoying your food, and the effects it’s having on your body.
Mindful eating encompasses the entire process and experience of eating, which includes:
- Awareness of your physical and emotional cues;
- Recognition of your non-hunger triggers for eating (i.e.: boredom);
- Learning to meet your other needs in more effective ways than eating;
- Choosing food for both enjoyment and nourishment;
- Eating for optimal satisfaction and satiety;
- Using the fuel you’ve consumed to live the vibrant life you crave.
What is the best way to approach eating in a mindful manner?
I always say the best way to cultivate a new habit is to shake up old routines and approach it with a beginner’s mind.
It is in our nature to perceive everyday people and situations without appreciation or awareness and through the lens of what we think we already know or understand about them. In contrast, the beginner’s mind means experiencing people and situations as though it is for the first time, without the filter of history and established beliefs. The same can be applied to the foods that we eat.
So, here are six simple ways that you can use a beginner’s mind to transform yourself into a mindful eater:
Use your beginner’s mind when eating to savour, smell and taste every bite.
Stop telling yourself a story about what you like and don’t like. New experiences actually help us to make new neuronal connections in our brains. That means we can change the way we feel about food and like it too.
Slow It Down
Chew slowly and think about the tastes and textures you are experiencing. Try closing your eyes, if you find it difficult.
Were you a picky eater growing up? Didn’t like your peas and swore you never would?
It is important to know that you may need to try something several times to build an appreciation for the flavour. This is especially true if you were raised on a more plain diet. It may take a while for your brain to catch up to all the new experiences it is having, but the great news is that our tastes can change and develop at any age.
Try, Try Again
Try a food you don’t think you like in a range of different dishes. Sometimes a new flavour combination or style of cooking can help you to further develop a palate for a specific food item. When you have tried something numerous times in various ways, your taste for it can grow immensely.
The Adventurous Type
Pride yourself in trying new things. Adventurous eaters often have diets that contain a broader range of healthy phytonutrients, antioxidants and vitamins.
Although we all love a good Netflix show and our favourite meal, I challenge you to turn it all off. Eliminate distractions while eating so that you can really focus on the food, company and the experience of eating.
Try to integrate these six approaches to eating and you will become a mindful eater in due time. If you have any questions about mindful eating or the beginner’s mind, reach out to me anytime.
Be healthy. Be happy.
Dr. Jen Forristal
Originally posted as a guest blog post for Rare Republic. Click here to see original article.