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How do you make time to eat mindfully?

By Erica Bartlett

“What’s so great about eating a meal mindfully? Don’t you get bored eating without doing something else? How do you make time to eat mindfully?”

Make-time-to-eat-mindfullyThese are common questions about mindful eating so I thought the best way to answer them is to describe how this works for me. This particular example happened on a Saturday, when I wanted to reclaim mindful eating for myself after a busy workweek.

I had a light breakfast after my walk then spent a couple of hours cleaning up the yard after some heavy storms. By midday, I definitely felt hungry, having a sort of “running on empty” sensation. From experience, I knew that makes me appreciate my food even more. As Michelle says, “Hunger is the best seasoning.”

I prepared a salad including green beans, blanched red onions, almond cheddar cheese, quinoa, with a nice dressing. As I put it together, I paused to admire the colors—lovely greens of the beans and parsley, pinkish-red of onions, and the orange of the cheese. I smelled each ingredient, anticipating how they would taste.

Before eating, I took a moment to be grateful for the food, as well as for being in a cool house, dry house during this muggy season. Then I began to eat, focusing solely on my food.

First I noticed the flavors. The onions gave a hint of sweetness, the vinegar a touch of acidity, all blending with the other flavors to form a lovely whole. Then I paid attention to the textures. The beans had a slight snap, which added a nice crispness that contrasted with the creaminess of the cheese.

Then memories came up, triggered by the food. I remembered growing up, helping pick and snap green beans with my mom. I thought about the farmers who grew the onions, and wondered who came up with the idea of making “cheese” out of almonds for those of who can’t or don’t eat dairy.

I ended my meal with an apple. As I took small bites, appreciating the crunch as well as perfect balance of sweet and tart, I looked at the trees swaying in the buffeting wind and thought about apple picking. I realized that the orchards where I like to pick endured the same weather, and that this apple was a testament to everything its parent tree survived in order to produce it. How miraculous, too, that the small seeds within could produce yet another tree, and yet more apples.

I also noticed how the food affected my body. I could literally feel the bites nourishing me, my energy returning as I chewed and swallowed, replacing the emptiness with a sense of wellbeing and focus.

Finishing it all off with a cup of herbal tea, I felt replenished in so many ways. I had gained energy not only from the food but from the mindfulness of it, of allowing myself time to truly engage in what I was doing and appreciate it in all aspects.

This served as a useful reminder to me about why eating mindfully is important, especially when I feel like I don’t have time, because that is when I need these moments of tranquility and recharging the most.

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About the author

Erica Bartlett discovered mindful eating in her early 20's, and it changed her life. Not only did it allow her to lose half her body weight and maintain that loss for over ten years, it also helped her discover many new things that she loves in addition to food. One of these newer passions is working with others who have food and weight concerns, which is why she is now a licensed Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating facilitator and a certified Health Coach. Her website is www.rediscoveringfoodmaine.com, and she keeps a weekly blog at www.losingbattle-erica.blogspot.com

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