Mindful: Eating

Above: where we start our day, every day.

The holiday season is the perfect time to assess my relationship to eating. While I try hard to feed myself and my family whole and healthy food, I rarely think very deeply about the actual process of eating while I’m doing it. It can be such a mechanical, necessary task that I forget to experience the pleasure of enjoying food beyond its functional purpose. On the flip side, I also have an insatiable sweet tooth, which often sabotages mindful eating – I can never have just one bite (and Lord help me, it’s baked goods season!).

A few things I’m focusing on to eat more mindfully this time of year:

Pause and ask. From the last bites of sandwich I finish even though I’m full, to the random bites on my toddler’s abandoned plate, I often automatically consume something just because it’s there. Then I wonder where that afternoon energy slump or blah feeling in my stomach came from. Just pausing for a moment to make a conscious choice about what I’m about to put in my mouth (i.e., Will this cold mac and cheese actually taste good or nourish me? Probably not.) is the most helpful eating habit I’ve come across (although remembering to do it is half the battle! haha).

Resist the lie of scarcity. When faced with so many comforting and nostalgic food choices of the season (PSLs! Casseroles! Pie!), I’m aware of my goofy, subconscious belief that I have to eat all of them, all at once, and all at the same time before it all disappears forever. When I stop and remember that there will always be another opportunity to eat this or that, I can decide if I actually want what’s being offered, and then enjoy a small serving or pass until next time.

Taste it. God could have easily created us to be sustained only on water and air; instead he blessed us with food that nourishes and satisfies us on so many levels. Most meals, whether from forgetfulness or necessity, I rush through each bite without taking time to experience the smells, tastes, and textures. This season I want to enjoy and be thankful for each bite.

Be with those I love. Sharing food with loved ones is a sacred practice, and I miss out on precious moments with my family when I eat hurriedly over the sink. I’m challenging myself to sit down with my boys during breakfast, and ask my husband thoughtful questions during dinner. And when we’re seated around a family table for holiday meals, I want to take a deep breath and be present with those I love.

If you have any more tips for mindful eating this season, I’d love to hear!