Hi there, hope you are having a good morning!
So I wanted to bring up a topic today that is near and dear to my heart when it comes to living an all around, healthy lifestyle: the topic of awareness and/or the act of paying attention when it comes to food/eating.
The act of paying attention is one of the best “lessons” I learned when I crossed over to the “healthy living lifestyle” (clean, whole foods most of the time, focusing on whole grains, veggies, etc…). It is one thing that I NEVER used to do or even thought to do when eating/cooking, but now it is something I keep in mind all.the.time. and is something I try to practice as much as possible.
I actually learned this tip from Bethenny Frankel in her book, Naturally Thin (I love this book, by the way), and I really feel it is SO IMPORTANT in regard to healthy living/living a healthy life in general. It’s like a light bulb went off in my head when I realized how interconnected this act is to so many aspects of life. Paying attention seems to be obvious task, but it can be really eye-opening if it’s not something you’re used to doing.
Paying attention can mean A LOT of things, but in regard to food, a few things that make up the concept include:
- tasting your food! (aka not shoving it in your mouth or zoning out when eating)
- recognizing when it is time for a meal – and stopping other activities
- making a meal an ‘event’ (food presentation, making food look “pretty“) – you eat with your eyes first!
- being aware of flavors/food combination, textures, food temperature….
When I started adopting this habit into my life (which was HARD at first…. mindless eating is often very second nature and NOT paying attention is much easier to do), I started to become more aware of when I was hungry and when I was full. I started to notice when foods didn’t taste so great (which is surprisingly hard to tell when you shovel food into your mouth… who would have thought?), started eating more slowly, and started to care more about what my food actually looked like. Food became more about quality and less about quantity. The “art” of food and the act of sitting down to a meal became more important to me.
Basically, the simple act of paying attention to what I was eating changed how I viewed food and the act of eating.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that I sit in silence every time I eat and savor each and every morsel that goes into my mouth. Sometimes I eat in front of my computer or in front of the TV. Sometimes I have to eat quickly or have to throw dinner together in five minutes. Last week, for example, I had to eat dinner in my car (eating a kale and cucumber wrap out of a Tupperware container is an interesting obstacle, by the way). I understand that it is not always possible to completely unplug and give all your attention to a meal.
While paying attention can be mean various things to different people, to me, it is not about analyzing your food or making food more than it needs to be (like spending hours preparing it or making sure to taste every bite that you take), it’s about refocusing your attention to the present and unplugging from life.
I felt the need to bring this up since it is something that I have been trying to do, even when I am super busy and have to eat on the go. I feel like there is always some way to refocus yourself when busy or stressed (even if it’s just for 5 minutes!), and for me, enjoying a meal – even if its something simple – is a built-in window of opportunity in which to do so. I refuse to let my busy schedule get in the way of my ability to disconnect for just a bit.
I hope I don’t sound crazy, but I truly believe that the simple act of paying attention to a meal (focusing on who your with, what your favorite part of your lunch is, what tastes the best/worst, etc.) can be a great way to refocus a moment or day. We eat at least 3x a day, why not take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy ourselves? It’s a great way to refocus and truly live in the present moment.
Do you think paying attention when eating is important/do you pay attention to it?
How do you refocus yourself when stressed/busy? How do you “live in the moment?”