In our fast paced modern lives, our bodies are constantly on autopilot. We don’t get much time to wind down and appreciate what’s going on around us. Even sleeping is rushed, who honestly gets a full eight hours every night? Definitely not me for sure!
Mindfulness is growing. Once thought only to be practiced by wild hippies and yoga teachers, it’s now emerging a big step to improve mental wellbeing in our daily lives. Here I’ve stolen a nice little quote from Professor Mark Williams about what it actually is:
“Mindfulness also allows us to become more aware of the stream of thoughts and feelings that we experience,” and to see how we can become entangled in that stream in ways that are not helpful. This lets us stand back from our thoughts and start to see their patterns. Gradually, we can train ourselves to notice when our thoughts are taking over and realise that thoughts are simply ‘mental events’ that do not have to control us. Most of us have issues that we find hard to let go and mindfulness can help us deal with them more productively. We can ask: ‘Is trying to solve this by brooding about it helpful, or am I just getting caught up in my thoughts? Awareness of this kind also helps us notice signs of stress or anxiety earlier and helps us deal with them better.”
I’ve heard about the concept of mindfulness, but whilst studying for Dietetics and since being diagnosed with depression, it has been everywhere! Whilst I’m only just starting to practice mindfulness for my mental health, I thought I’d be able to give you some insight into mindful eating.
Mindful eating is a technique where you purposely pay attention to your food. Yeah yeah, I know it sounds daft, but i mean really pay attention to your food. Take away your attention from the world. Switch off your phone or your TV. Use your senses: taste, touch, smell, sound and sight.
Mindful eating does have it’s benefits! You firstly begin to enjoy and appreciate food more, rather than shovelling it in. You can fall in love with certain dishes all over again and also realise what you don’t want to but into your body anymore. You are also able to learn about you satiety – you’ll realise when you are hungry and when you are full, and eat to your body’s signals. This has been proven to help with weight loss and recovery in those that are overweight or in binge eating disorder. Your body is a clever thing. It requires fuel and mindful eating will help your body realise what and when fuel needs to go in.
Whilst it can be time consuming, taking time out of each day to embrace the present is important, so why not start with food. It can be as little as switch off your technology just for your meal, taking time out to appreciate your meals is good for you!
So take some time out for you today. Ten minutes is all it takes. Focus on your food, your surrounding and live in the present! We don’t all live forever but we’ve got a lot to appreciate on this little planet of ours.
Emma is a Registered Dietitian and Registered Associate Nutritionist based in Cheshire, England. Emma works in community healthcare and writes freelance alongside her work: topics including Dietetic life, nutrition, mental health and lifestyle. Emma also writes and photographs recipes for the platform, as well as being the author of the ‘Mummy and Me’ series for SR Nutrition. Emma’s Food Stories is PR friendly brand.