6.09.2014

Mindful Eating Challenge Progress and Update

One week into the 14-day Mindful Eating Challenge, and I have some reflections on the experience thus far!

You can check out the details on the Mindful Eating Challenge here to learn why we're doing this and what it means. Read the summary of the completed challenge here.

The official 14-day challenge was in large part my wife's idea, and I've been learning while doing. Some benefits I've experienced:

I've noticed that taking the time to sit and think about my food and the experience of eating it has really brought a level of relaxation to my whole day that I haven't had in quite a while. When I get stressed and busy it's easy to fall into patterns of eating on the go or losing sleep, but those types of responses to stress just perpetuate the stressful environment. It's becoming clear to me that "mindless" eating has a similar effect on my overall stress level to missing sleep or cramming for a test. I just don't feel as good, the food doesn't taste as good, and the natural cycle of my day gets thrown off. Forcing myself to sit down and stop whatever else I'm doing to eat a meal has been a big challenge, even though it sounds simple. However, after just a week of being mindful and attentive I can see the practical benefits of making the time I eat be a relaxing break from anything else that's going on. I've actually found that I look forward to eating more because I know that I'm going to take that time for myself.

Right BEFORE we ate breakfast on Sunday. We put away the laptop before eating, I swear.

Also, the food tastes better. It's immediately clear the first time I tried consciously eating mindfully, and it's lasted through the week. If I put a bite in your mouth and tune everything else out, even closing my eyes, the experience becomes so much more vibrant. We all know that when you focus on something the sense of it is heightened, and that our brains have the ability to tune out extraneous sensory information. Think about how your sense of touch feels the air, clothing, chairs, floor all the time. If we couldn't tune out that stuff we'd never get anything done. The same is true for food. When you watch TV, browse the internet, work, or even talk while eating you tune out a large portion of one of the most enjoyable human experiences: that of nourishing you body. Rather than tuning out of my primary goal of eating my meal in favor of multi-tasking, I'm really focusing on the food and appreciating the eating/digesting process.

We have struggled with a few things, too. As we expected when we started, breakfast is hard. Unless we have some left overs or prepare something special, it's hard to eat a real meal before leaving for the day. Also a challenge: getting enough food when we're very hungry after a hard workout, since grabbing a handful of nuts while walking around the house is not a mindful option. Again, we've just got to prepare enough food ahead of time or eat a bigger lunch that will hold us till dinner is ready. Hoping to keep improving these skills as we continue our challenge.

What benefits do you notice from taking the time to focus on your food? What tips and tools make it easier to eat in a rested, seated, calm state?

You can check out the details on the Mindful Eating Challenge here to learn why we're doing this and why it's important. Read the summary of the completed challenge here.

8 comments:

  1. This is a great reminder in general how different an activity can be when you practice mindfulness- be it eating as in your challenge (halfway through!) or just paying more attention during your walk home during a commute. It's one of the things I think as urban dwellers we have lost as we try to multitask and are regularly tuning things out. It's not just breakfast that is hard for me to be mindful of (especially since I often skip it and just have a beverage), but lunch too. That's probably why I so often enjoy dinner though- it's the one time of the day where my meal never has to be rushed because I don't have to rush to go anywhere or do anything after

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  2. Interesting. I don't eat on the go a lot nor am I usually in a big hurry (there are exceptions) but I almost always eat my breakfast, lunch and a lot of my dinners in front of the television. Why I find it relaxing and entertaining it doesn't allow me to really appreciate what I am putting in my mouth. I should try to go with out my meal entertainment sometimes.

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  3. I know I eat a lot less when I take the time to really slow down and enjoy the food. I've found by not watching as much tv I have really cut down on my mindless eating.

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  4. I forget to eat lunch all the time. Then by dinner I am starving and will eat as fast as I can. A habit I would like to stop.

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  5. Eating in front of the TV is fun, I'm not gonna lie haha. However, I notice I just feel more relaxed throughout my whole day when I don't do it. Instead, I just watch TV after I'm done eating mindfully. It still works! haha

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  6. Dinner is a really nice time to just be calm and reflect on the day. It's hard to get out of the habit of tuning a lot of things out because everything is coming at us so fast these days, but if we can get ourselves to reassess what should and shouldn't be tuned out I think we'll find that taking time to be mindful and eat calmly has huge benefits.

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  7. It's hard! Sometimes you just get on a roll and it's tough to think of stopping and mindfully eating a meal. That go go go, do do do, part of your brain sees it as an interruption.

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  8. That's a great tip! I do the same and it's really helped. Thanks for the comment!

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