What exactly is meant by “mindful eating?”

If you are like most people, then your new year probably started out with resolutions for trimming your waistline. A great intention but how committed are you? While most people have good intentions on January 1st, come mid month, they are all too willing to slip back into old patterns of comfort eating. This year, instead of training your belly, why not try training your mind instead?

Mindful eating is not rocket science.  In days when life was not all about TV dinners and eating on the go, people would actually have longer and more enjoyable meals that actually resulted in skinnier waistlines.  Think “French family dinners”  which are inevitably a social event. Traditionally, the focus has always been on the food and the wine. Well, it’s no Ayurvedic secret that focusing on food, aids digestion.

As a child, I was wont to read at the dinner table.  My father would always stop me saying that reading while eating sends blood rushing to the brain rather than to the stomach where it is needed during mealtime. Later in life, I realized that what he referred to was not blood, as much as digestive energy, the necessary component of perfect digestion.

Ayurvedic medicine is all about living life “in the moment.”  If you do not focus on what you are doing when you are doing it, no matter what it might be, then you limit your ability to complete your action to its full potential.  While this simple philosophy pertains to just about any action that you take, it certainly pertains to food and eating.

The good news is that five thousand years later, scientists have finally begun to figure this out. Recently, NPR had an interesting show recently about people eating on the go in Grand Central Station and how the influence of noise causes overeating. It’s a great podcast that puts this ancient Ayurvedic concept into a completely modern example. Check out the podcast here.

As you start your year with diets and detox ideals, why not try eating at least one meal a day mindfully, without the distraction of TVs, video games, noise and newspapers.  Just focus on the food. Think about what you are eating, what it tastes like. You will be amazed at how much you can appreciate the flavor of food  just by eliminating distractions. Think about how you feel while you eat it. What does it do for your energy levels during and then right after your meal? And then what does it do for your energy levels about one hour later?

Here’s to a new practice of mindful eating.

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