During the festive season it is very easy to become overwhelmed with social commitments. Alongside these social commitments is the last minute push to finish all your work before the office shuts down for the year. While others are celebrating, some are left more stressed than ever.
Whilst symptoms of this last-minute-push usually manifest themselves in the obvious, another often overlooked symptom could be causing you more harm than good.
“Just as with most other things in life, we generally eat on automatic pilot. We rush in, stuff some food down the gullet and rush out again. We sit in front of a plate full of food, only to look down a few minutes later and notice that the plate is empty. Did we really taste any of the food in between? We might be vaguely aware that the food was hot or cold, fatty or sweet, soft or crunchy, but we generally won’t have given it much attention,” says Dr Craig Hassed, Senior Lecturer at Monash University, who specialises in mindfulness-based stress management.
Enter any restaurant or observe any family dinner table and you’re bound to see people reaching for their smart phones, scrolling through their news feed, seemingly unaware of their present surroundings. What mindful eating promotes, is the reconnection with yourself, over outside influences.
Rather than scoffing down your food and focussing on outside distractions, the benefits of mindful eating point to an increase in satisfaction and a decrease in stress.
Practicing mindful eating as a way of tuning out the rest of the world and focussing on your present, has an amazing way of making you forget your troubles, if only for a moment.
Relishing in the sumptuous aromas of your favourite pasta or biting into a cold piece of flavoursome watermelon will evoke all five senses and instantly make you more focussed, calm and ready to tackle the rest of your day.
Promotes Healthy Eating
By simply paying attention to what you eat you will be astounded at how much less you mindlessly consume.
We’re all guilty of settling down in front of our favourite tv show, tucking into a box of cookies or a packet of chips with the intention of only eating a few, only to look down and realise the entire packet is empty.
“We don’t get the same emotional satisfaction from the food if we are not really tasting it. Secondly, we won’t be likely to pick up the body’s satiety messages — the body telling us when it has had enough. We might be way out of tune with what our body actually needs and totally unaware of how fatty, sweet or salty the food is that we are eating,” says Dr Hassed.
When you are conscious of what you are eating, especially when eating alone, you listen to your body more and are therefore more likely to go for healthier options, or stop eating when we are full. This in turn leads to greater satisfaction and less guilt.
When we are enjoying our food and focussing on the present, we are increasingly conscious of our surroundings as well as how we are feeling. By using our ‘me time’ as time to reflect on our current state of mind, we are practicing mindfulness without really trying.