How many of us are truly present during the ritual of eating? Over the last year, I’ve spent a lot of time eating absent-mindedly: in front of my computer, on the phone or while watching television, rushing through lunch on the go, snacking without realising and sometimes skipping meals altogether. Wanting to change my relationship to food I went along to a ´conscious eating’ workshop to find out how to eat more mindfully.
While my love of food and cooking is a healthy passion, I’ve realised that how I eat is less so. That’s why I went to a workshop called ‘alimentación consciente’ (conscious eating) organised by Frutopía in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala to learn how to create better personal eating habits. I went with an open mind and a desire to build a healthier relationship to eating: to appreciate, celebrate and take time to enjoy my food, using all my senses to become a more conscious eater. The workshop both fulfilled my aspirations and my belly also!
What is conscious eating?
Conscious eating is closely linked to the practice of meditation: being aware and present while one eats. For example, noting how your body reacts when you smell and see the food in front of you, its touch and texture. How does the flavour change as you chew? What happens to your appetite when you take time to savour every bite? Conscious eating is the practice of thinking about where and how we eat, what to eat and why.Ofelia Valle, the nutritionist who led the workshop, had plenty of advice to help us on our way to becoming healthier, conscious eaters. Below I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 tips to get us started!
10 Tips to Become a More Conscious Eater
1. Remove any distractions that are likely to divert you away from eating consciously. Leave your computer and phone in a different room and turn the television off
2. Always sit down to eat, never eat standing up. Maintain a good posture while eating (sitting down, back straight) and if you can focus on your breathing while eating, this will help keep your mind focused
3. Pause before you grab a snack. Reflect on why do you need to eat right now? Are you really hungry or is there another reason? Boredom? Are you thirsty? Learn to read your body’s signals on what it needs and when?
4. Take a moment to appreciate the food you are about to eat. Reflect on where your food came from, who produced it and how blessed you are to be enjoying it. This will help grow your appreciation and awareness
(photo credit to Pauline Zalkin, Fineas Media)
5. Allow at least 20 minutes to eat for each meal. It takes 20 minutes for us to feel full. If we rush our food, we are more likely to carry on eating and eat too much
6. Before you dive in, take time to really relish in your food: spend a moment smelling the aroma and savouring how appetising the food looks, this will help satisfy your palette
7. Concentrate on every mouthful, putting the fork down between bites. This will help prevent rushing and will motivate you to finish one mouthful before beginning another. To slow you down further, you can try using the opposite hand to which you are used to using
(boozy bean burritos)
8. Save the best for last. Leave your favourite food type on the plate until the end. You’re likely to be more satisfied and won’t want to continue eating having left your favourite food until last!
9. Try to source sustainable, organic and high quality ingredients making it easier to appreciate and celebrate your food
10. Have patience! Breaking old habits and creating new ones takes time. It’s said to take 21 days for new habits to stick. Set yourself a three-week challenge, even it’s eating consciously for just one meal a day.
Check out Frutopía’s Facebook page in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala for upcoming workshops.