Food and minfulness

24 June 2018
In my day job I talk a lot about eating mindfully, being aware of our physical eating cues, the importance of trust in our bodies and enjoyment of food. What I'm finding more and more is that mindfulness can be applied to all aspects of food and eating.

Mindfulness, to me, is about being present, acting with full awareness and removing judgement. As I continue to fine tune the values based eating approach of my life I find mindfulness an important and useful tool so I thought I'd chat about it today.

A cup of tea always provides a mindful moment (especially brewing chai)

Please note - this is a post to share my thoughts and observations NOT to provide a how to or any prescriptive advice. You do you.

Being Present

Food is a great tool to bring me into the present moment. Through my day I find the act of preparing and eating food a way to be mindful. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not zen-ing out with every eating experience but I do try to take a moment across the day to engage with eating. For me this might be a mindful lunch in the sunshine after the kiddos are resting, taking time to recharge and soak up some winter sun. Or it could be carving out fifteen minutes in the afternoon with an iced coffee and a small snack. When I make the time to be mindful in these moments, focus on the food/drink I'm enjoying and removing distractions I'm able to find a little bit of recharge time and a bit of grounding. Which I find oh so important when I'm at home with kids. I really notice the difference when I don't make the space for this.

Preparing food can also offer a time to connect. Definitely not in the crazy feeding frenzy that breakfast is around here but if I'm prepping some dinner stuff a little early, putting the slow cooker on or baking I can sometimes do so with more engagement and mindfulness. This only works if the food prep time is not constrained by time and getting food on plates. But when I manage it I feel so much more connected to the food I'm preparing, the effort that went in to growing it and the anticipation of the upcoming enjoyment of it. It also helps remind me to connect to my love of cooking, which can get a little lost in the day to day of food prep for a family.

Noticing this beautiful pattern while chopping the cabbage.

Acting with full awareness

This one is a constant work in progress. I find that sometimes I go into auto-pilot with food shopping and meal planning and don't keep this element front of mind as much. I find myself going to the same places and then remembering I was going to check out somewhere new or investigate bulk buying options etc...next time. It generally comes naturally when I'm trying to implement a new change or way of doing, but once this change becomes a habit it falls away again. However, the more I keep my values front of mind the more I find awareness naturally follows. So, as I say, work in progress!

Mindful food choices - hitting up the farmer's market.

One part of full awareness I do maintain is in the actual eating. I think because I live and breath this with my work that it is always front of mind and is now a habit - but an aware-ful one. Also, I just love food so much! I must admit though that I noticed this one 'sliding' in the very early stages of motherhood where rushed eating is a way of life and things are a lot more chaotic. I was able to keep mindful of this and instead of trying to change it I tried to work on not judging it. Which brings me to...

Removing Judgement

Such a big part of mindfulness and, I must confess, the hardest for me. I'm very judgmental of myself and, at times, others. However, with mindfulness I've noticed this judgement of others to be around areas where I might have insecurities and am working hard on not letting these show (recovering perfectionist with her hand up here). So, if I focus on not judging myself and using more self compassion it naturally flows into less judgement of others. And to bring this on topic with food - it's about not judging myself for not doing it all and not doing it all perfectly (hand up again!).

Values based eating is a process, not an all or nothing destination and I just have to keep reminding myself of this. I also have found it useful to recognise the 'seasons' of life - that for me this is a season of young kids and all that entails. Eventually this will shift and there will be space for making further changes. Each season brings different challenges and different opportunities, which I try to keep in mind.

Mindfulness can't be done 'wrong', it's a constant practice and work in progress. A challenge but a hidden benefit for this recovering perfectionist that is generally way too hard on herself.

Do you find mindful moments in your food day?
Have you ever thought about how mindfulness applies to food, eating and all that jazz? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

8 comments

  1. Such a great post, Laura. For me, mindfulness in terms of food begins with considering where the food I'm sourcing comes from and how I'm going to use it to nourish my family. I think about the good that fresh homegrown and homemade food particularly in terms of our health and vitality. I am always seeking that feeling of wellness that preparing and eating nourishing food brings. It's great to be able to describe how different foods make you feel I think. I forget this when I get busy or rushed or lack time for some reason too. Meg:)

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    1. Thanks Meg, yes it's so easy to get pulled along with life. Definitely need to take the moments to re-connect to our food and our values around eating.
      Cheers,
      Laura

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  2. Hi Laura, you are not alone. I totally lost my cooking mojo for a while after becoming a parent meant having to get dinner on the table at 6pm every night while also child-wrangling through the witching hour. And now school lunches, etc. Totally agree re the seasons of life. Accepting that it is what it is, and carving out moments of mindfulness where possible can remind us of the joy inherent in what we do - and that what we do IS meaningful and important. Cheers, Sally
    PS Sourdough bagels look amazing?!?!

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    1. Yes, it's so common I think. I do feel for people who never enjoyed cooking in the first place.
      Hope you give the bagels a go - definitely worth it.
      Cheers,
      Laura

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  3. Yes terrific post, thank you. It is so easy to just be on autopilot even for cooking. I do have gratitude that my husband and I are able to eat well (empty nesters), when many families can't, so am quite mindful of that. I very much remember the young children stage, and yes it is a busy time of life!

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    1. Thanks for sharing Karen. Another good mindfulness point - gratitude.

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  4. I can't say that I find grocery shopping mindful. Because I don't enjoy any type of shopping I tend to go on auto pilot mode, pick the stuff on my list and get out of the store. :)
    My mindful moments are normally when I cook, because I find cooking so relaxing. The same with whenever I do a craft project, or when I'm in the garden. Paying attention to what I do and be in the moment can be hard sometimes, but I'm getting better. :)

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    1. I love grocery shopping - but I recognise I'm a little strange that way!! Cooking is definitely a relaxing task for me too for the most part (as long as there aren't hangry kids to feed!).
      cheers,
      Laura

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