To bring mindfulness into the eating process can be a tough prospect for some (if not most) working professionals and parents alike.
Christopher Willard, PsyD, author of “Six Ways to Practice Mindful Eating,” which appeared in Mindful, acknowledges that “eating as mindfully as we do on retreat or in a mindfulness course is not realistic for many of us, especially with families, jobs, and the myriad distractions around us.”
One might call this lack of mindful eating an epidemic of sorts. Willard is hopeful in change, however. He encourages “more mindful eating, perhaps “informal” mindful eating as opposed to formal mindful eating.”
In Willard’s more accessible approach to mindful eating, individuals can focus more on how one eats day to day, as opposed to making grand changes quickly. To this end, we can start to “discern between mindless and (more) mindful eating, and bring our bodies and minds back together.”
So what exactly are Willard’s steps?
- Listen to your body (stop eating when the body signals that it’s full)
- Eat when the body is hungry (listen to signs like a growling stomach)
- Eat with others, try to develop routine around eating times and places
- Eat nutritional foods (such as plant-based foods, fiber, protein)
- Just eat when eating (opposed to eating while using devices like cell phones)
- Reflect on the origin of foods (ask questions like: how far did this food travel to arrive on my plate?)
- Companies like Washington-based Thirdleaf Northwest (Formerly Apple-A-Day) are doing what they can to spread the gospel of mindful eating, as Willard has done. They offer a curated snack service that customizes healthy snacks for office spaces in the Seattle area. Thirdleaf Northwest focuses on local-based healthy snack items, like fresh fruit. Check out Thirdleaf Northwest to learn more.
So how can you practice mindful eating? Let’s use a couple of Willard’s steps to contemplate how we might mindfully eat an apple.
First, making the choice to eat an apple is mindful in and of itself, as it’s a nutritional snack option if it’s a healthy apple.
Next, you can visit a local market to your area. Learn where the apple you decide to purchase was grown. An apple that travels no further than a single state line is a good place to start.
Put your phone out of sight, and eat your apple outside if you can. Do you have a friend or colleague around? Why not ask if they have ten or so minutes to sit with you, and share in fellowship as you mindfully eat your apple?
Finally, if your body gives you signs that the apple is well received (the apple tastes good, you’re hungry for it, etc.), then give thanks for the apple. Take a deep breath and smile: you’re on track to living into mindful eating.
Willard, Christopher. “Six Ways to Practice Mindful Eating.” Mindful. Jan. 17, 2019. https://www.mindful.org/6-ways-practice-mindful-eating/