Our relationship to food has been increasingly led by convenience, media-led conditioning, and culture.
By reflecting on times past, when food was slow and community-centred, we can learn about reconditioning ourselves to food in a wholistic way. Modernly, our individual-focused lifestyles have us often eating quickly, alone, and while multitasking. These types of disconnections to our food are showing to have negative effects. For example, a study in 2002 concluded that people tend to overeat while multitasking.
Attentive awareness of an eating experience through psychological, cognitive, and sensory experience is thought to have positive implications on food relationships. To build a relationship with food it is important to not only bring awareness to the eating experience itself (whether it be delicious, bitter, or in dire need of salt), but by beginning to understand the impact each food item has; where did it grow, are the farming conditions ethical, how far did it travel, how much resources did it use to grow, are their chemicals involved, what are the environmental impacts, how is it processed, is it healthy for the body...
A proposed remediation to the way we connect with food is to practice mindful eating. Mindful Eating is a meditative way to engage with food. Taking time to be completely present while eating will heighten our sensory engagement. Jean Kristeller, the creator of the Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training program and leading researcher in this field, defines mindfulness as becoming “aware of the full range of experiences that exist in the now … [by bringing one’s] complete attention to the present experience on a moment to moment basis” (Miller, William R. Integrating Spirituality into Treatment: Resources for Practitioners).
Mindful eating encompasses non-judgemental awareness of the physical, emotional, and cognitive experiences. Physically, the sensory system engages taste, smell, sight, sound, and touch. Checking into the emotional quality of the psyche helps gauge food related decisions. Cognitive thoughts and mind-chatter are observed from a neutral and unattached state of mind. Becoming aware of these internal factors is how mindful eating is practiced. From consumer choices to consumption patterns, mindfulness can be implemented vastly into the relationship we create with food. It is deeply enriching to connect with our food in a present way.
Helpful points of focus during a mindful eating experience start with checking in on your thought and emotional quality. Hunger level should be assessed. Taking time to think about the ramifications of the food you are about to eat. Go slow and notice all sensory experiences of the food.
Checking in with mental, emotional, and physiological qualities.
Simply notice what you are experiencing.
The impact of eating with such awareness may have an effect. Give it a try yourself! If you are interested to incorporate Mindful Eating into your food relationship here are some resources to get you started! 1. The Raisin Eating with Jon Kabat-Zinn