Some people call it mindful eating. While it’s a good term, I like to think of it as “getting the most pleasure” out of what I’m eating. That makes me feel like I’m getting real pleasure, and taking steps to squeeze out as much pleasure as I can is more motivating than creating rules for myself about what I can and cannot do when I eat.
By far being present while I eat, or mindful eating, is the eating habit I have to work on, especially when I am very busy, stressed, excited, or with other people.
These strategies are simple and subtle. They always help me remember to focus on my food and enjoy it to the fullest.
Here are 11 ways to enjoy your food more …
Chewing food 20 times or so is a definitive way to extract pleasure. This really slows me down. If I’m in a hurry, it reminds me not to rush to eat because I’ll miss out on the experience.
Normally a human vacuum that inhales food, this is a habit that I have to think about and make a game of. However, when chewing, I can notice the favors of the food. I can identify the ingredients. I can feel the texture and the temperature. All of this really makes me feel whole and satisfied … whether I’m indulging in a treat or eating the same breakfast I’ve had for the last 7 days in a row.
Chewing also helps slow him down if he’s around other people, so he’s not the first to finish his meal. That way, you won’t be tempted to get more just because everyone else is still eating.
2. Change hands.
Making things harder is a great way to force yourself to pay attention to what you are doing. An easy way to do this is to force yourself to eat with your non-dominant hand. You can start by doing this with smaller meals. It is also good advice to try when you are eating with other people and want to focus on eating so as not to mindlessly eat just because the other person is eating.
3. Eat with chopsticks.
Like changing hands, this makes things a bit more challenging. Also, you can only eat so much in one bite.
When I use chopsticks, I focus more on choosing the bites. As if I were eating a stir fry, I would choose the peppers, then the onions, then the mushrooms, etc. This makes me enjoy every part.
Eating with chopsticks becomes really complicated if you eat a sandwich.
I read a story about a tech company that asked a group of its employees to use chopsticks exclusively for one week as a mindfulness exercise. Although weight loss was not the goal, everyone in the office lost weight and several reported that the project changed their lives.
4. Lower your fork between each bite.
Leaving the fork between bites is an excellent complement to the habit of chewing. The act of putting your fork down forces you to focus on chewing your food rather than allowing yourself to mindlessly eat your plate for your next bite. It also encourages you to slow down and pay more attention to the taste of your food, rather than just shoveling it down your throat as quickly as possible.
5. Close your eyes.
Whether it’s for the first few bites or for the entire meal, close your eyes as you chew. Now you can really focus on the flavors, the ingredients and how they interact, and the texture as it changes. In a world of distraction, closing your eyes gives you control over your experience.
6. Identify all the ingredients.
As a professional chef or taste tester, it can be fun to identify each flavor and what you are eating. If it’s strawberry ice cream, can you try strawberries? What about milk or cream? If it’s a marinated steak, can you distinguish the ingredients in the marinade? Is it spicy, spicy, or salty?
7. Put your food on a plate.
I am guilty of eating out of the container or bag often when I am alone. Taking out plates seems unnecessary. However, putting food on a plate instead of eating from the bag helps me be aware of what I am eating and feel more satisfied with a smaller amount. If I finish my plate, that’s one thing. But if I finish the whole container, it could be double the amount of food.
8. Sit down.
Like eating from the container, I often like to stand while eating because I am in a hurry or because it seems unnecessary to sit down. Honestly, what is so important in my life that I don’t have time to take 15 minutes to stop and nurture myself? Sitting down tells our mind to focus on the activity instead of thinking about launching into the next one.
9. Get it a great deal.
If you are sitting and eating from a plate, giving yourself the food you love the most, why not celebrate? You could die tomorrow and you would have lost the opportunity to enjoy your life to the fullest! Seriously though, if you’re eating you’re giving your body energy to stay alive. If you didn’t eat, you would eventually lose energy and die. The reason you can be alive and active in your life is because you take care of your body … and what a fun way to do it.
Get off the pretty china. Get the fancy fork. Set the table. Light a candle. This is especially important if you are indulging in something you really want.
10. Shut up.
Turn off the television, computer, and other distractions to eat quietly. Like closing your eyes, it helps eliminate distractions. You can hear the voice in your head more easily and can guide you to focus on the flavors in your mouth.
11. Be grateful.
Consider what it took to get the food to eat. Not only the sun and rain fed the vegetables, fruits, cereals and animals, but also the labor that was dedicated to harvesting, processing, packaging, shipping, delivering, storing and offering or serving the food. It’s very important. It is no small thing to bring that amount of food to people all over the world every day.
All that effort is for you. It is so that you have the food you want, when you want it. Consider being thankful for how fortunate you are to have such affordable food and the means to pay for what you do have.