Let Leo Babauta, author, vegan and blogger, share his story of… mindful eating.
Seven years ago, Leo was 32, weighed 60 lbs heavier and was addicted to junk food. In other words, he was headed for diabetes and heart disease but couldn’t figure out the way to change.
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So what gave him the strength and motivation to change his life so that a year later, he was able to start dropping weight consistently, eat healthy and run a marathon?
The answer is a bit unexpected. Leo started using eating as a form of meditation. For a contemporary, constantly-busy human, it’s unheard of, but the practice is thousands of years old.
An average American eats too many unnecessary calories, and, with cookies, chips, French fries, sodas, hamburgers, etc., get those calories from elements that are not healthy: too little nutrition and too much calories, sugar, saturated fats, added chemicals, sodium, the list goes on.
Advertising and huge industries are partly to blame, but mindless eating is also part of the problem. Often, we don’t eat to curb our hunger but because we are depressed, bored, tired, lonely - you name it. We eat and do something at the same time, talk to other people, watch a show, read.
And, of course, food has a profound health effect on our lives long-term.
When we practice mindfulness or meditate, we do just that and focus on our body, breath, noticing and acknowledging our sensations, emotions, feelings and thoughts. Same with food meditation - but instead of focusing on yourself, you focus on the food and the emotions it prompts.
The point here is to slow down, savour the food, feel gratitude towards those who helped it reach your table.
Consider these benefits of eating meditation:
#1. When you pay attention, food does taste better;
#2. When you slow down and savour, you learn to enjoy eating healthy;
#3. When you pay attention, you don’t overeat;
#4. Because one of your objectives is to savour, you start looking for simpler foods;
#5. When you meditate while eating, you start noticing the feelings you have towards your food and the very ritual of eating;
#6. You now have a window of mindfulness in your schedule, however small;
#8. It’s actually fun!
Take just a few minutes out of each day to bring yourself to a state of calm and wellness and balance your life using a combination of guided meditations and mindfulness techniques. The techniques are a simple, practical relaxation method for anyone.
So, what are the key steps to using eating as meditation?
#1. Clear away some time for your eating meditation session, where you will be able to focus solely on the meditation.
#2. Look at the food you’re going to eat: Its shape, texture, colour, smell.
#3. Think about where your food comes from. Is it locally grown, or originates elsewhere? Think about the people who grew it, harvested it, transported and prepared it. Which animals gave their lives so you can enjoy this product and be healthier? Feel the gratitude.
#4. Now, dig in, but one bite at a time. Savour the flavours and texture, and how does this food make you feel? Think about the nutrients this food is giving you.
#5. How does your boy feel? Are you stressed, anxious, afraid, sad, happy, hurt, confused, bored?
#6. As you eat, don’t take another bite until you’ve chewed and swallowed the previous one. Pause between bites, take your time to breathe.
Get used to this practice, try incorporating you into your daily schedule once, then twice, then every time you eat.
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Note that this isn’t a fast type of weight loss diet, and, most importantly, that the ultimate goal isn’t weight loss or better health - it’s the very process of meditation. You have already succeeded when you started eating mindfully.
The BetterMe Team wants you and those close to you to live a healthy, happy life! Your health is a valuable thing; look after your body and your mind so that you can live your life to the fullest – Remember you only get one!
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