Mindful Eating

One of the biggest aspects of self-care is what we eat, and it’s also one of the most complex. The diet industry is a multi-million pound business, and the food industry, particularly processed food, is tens if not hundreds of times bigger again. What’s more, the advice we are given seems to change every week, as fat, then sugar, then additives, then something else, are singled out as being ‘the problem’.

With so many competing theories and so much conflicting advice, it can be hard to know where to start. When I talked about writing this blog, I was advised by a colleague that ‘whatever you say you’ll ruffle someone’s feathers’. Yet at the end of the day, we all know, instinctively, what is good for us and what isn’t, we’ve just become so detached from our eating that we no longer notice.

Eat mindfully
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Stop eating on autopilot

We shop unconsciously, putting the same old stuff in our trolley week after week, falling for the bright packaging, the two-for-one offers and the comfort foods. We buy popcorn and sweets at the cinema, even when we’re sure we’re going to be distracted by the film. We eat unconsciously, all day long, having breakfast on the run, eating lunch al-desko and having our tea in front of the TV. We end up sleep walking our way through the day, paying little or no attention to what we are putting in our mouths.

We have lost our appreciation for the colours, textures and tastes of our food. Yet aiming to eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables is one of the simplest ways to start your move towards a healthier diet. We’ve also lost our appreciation of the natural tastes of foods, without added sugar or salt, or artificial chemicals.

Listen to your body

The worst part is that when you eat unconsciously, you stop listening to your body. We all know how we’ll feel if we have a late cup of coffee, or a second glass of wine, yet few of us take the time to develop the same understanding of our body’s reaction to food. However, these messages are still there if we choose to hear them.

Often, as colon hydrotherapists, we come across clients who have a reaction to food that is clear and obvious to us, such as bloating or constipation, but they have simply never made the connection. Many ARCH therapists now offer Lorisian Food Intolerance Testing, which can specifically identify the foods that cause digestive problems, and time after time their clients are surprised by the results.

Eat mindfully

So how can you stop all these bad habits and move yourself into a healthier way of eating? You simply have to pay attention and be mindful.

Stop before you get to the supermarket checkout and ask yourself if you really want all of the junk food, high fat and high salt snack and pre-prepared meals. Once you get it home, it’s so much harder to resist, so take it out now.

Now look again and see if you have the right ingredients to cook mindfully, really engaging with the food you eat to change your relationship with food. Just taking the time to prepare our food mindfully, paying attention to how the ingredients look, smell and feel, can give us a whole new appreciation of what we are eating; an appreciation you just don’t get when you open a jar or re-heat a ready meal.

Once it’s cooked, try to find time to really appreciate the food you eat. Sit at the table rather than the couch, and put your cutlery down between mouthfuls, so you can chew your food an enjoy the textures and flavours. It takes 20 minutes for the ‘full’ message to reach your brain from your stomach, so if you bolt your food, you’ll generally eat more than you need to. Focus on each mouthful and you’ll find you need less of them to really satisfy you.

Every little helps

I know what you are thinking right now: my life is way too busy to find time for all of this. But it really isn’t. It takes just a few minutes more to concentrate on your food and eat mindfully, than it does to just shovel it in without thinking. Yet those few minutes can make a huge difference to your diet and lifestyle, and ultimately to your health.

Try it; you have nothing to lose but your digestive problems!

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