It’s no news that 2020 has challenged us in ways we haven’t experienced before. Whether you’re in a place that has experienced a full lockdown, or somewhere where regulations are a little more lenient, physical distancing, self-isolating, and other safety measures have changed the regular course of our lives dramatically
Working from home has its pros, but it is easy for work life and personal life to blend into one when there is no physical difference between your work and your home. When working from home it is easy to fall into habits like working past regular work hours, getting distracted by home duties, and having a general lack of structure in the day. This affects our eating routines quite significantly. You can find yourself having your breakfast while typing your morning emails, or munching on snacks throughout the day almost without realizing.
If you are currently still working from home and are having trouble sticking to a healthy, mindful eating routine read on, these tips are for you!
Mindful eating is one of the most important practices when attending to our general wellness. For many of us, the endless rush of modern life has cost us our ability to actually sit, enjoy, and appreciate our food
Make it a priority to carve out the space to eat your meals with no distractions if possible.
You might say “oh but there is so much to do, I don’t have time for that”, but here is the thing: If you are working a full day you are legally entitled to at least a 30-minute lunch break. If you are working a half shift you can schedule your meals for before or after.
Very rarely will something be so urgent at work that it can’t wait 30 minutes for you to finish your lunch in peace. Make the time and don’t let work or other distractions hijack it.
Oh, and sit down! Eating while standing or walking around gives your body the impression that you are up and ready to go. It will most likely make you more scattered and less able to enjoy your food. So find a nice and inviting place to sit and focus on your meal.
Set the Mood
Set a relaxing mood for your meals. If you are in a space that is comfortable and soothing you are more likely to eat your meals slowly and mindfully. Choose to eat in silence if alone or enjoy the time you get to be present with your family during the meal.
Close your laptop, leave the phone in another room (in silent mode), drop your pen and pencil and just sit down with your meal. And don’t turn the TV on! The whole point is to create a space dedicated to enjoying your food.
If you like to listen to music when you eat, choose something relaxing as a background. Avoid listening to the news (especially during these times) while you eat. Your day is already hectic enough to make your break more stressful than it needs to be. World news can also wait at least 30 minutes.
In Gandhi’s Words: Chew Your Drink and Drink Your Food
Chewing your food enough is both a practice of mindfulness and a healthy habit. Many mindfulness teachers challenge you to chew each forkful 45 times (some even say to chew your food 45 times on each side of the mouth!). This not only breaks down the food enough so that it can be smoothly digested, but it also allows you to truly be present and savour each bite.
I challenge you all to give this a try! You’ll find that after so much chewing you will actually feel like you need to chew your food even more!
This clearly won’t be the way you eat every single meal, it does take quite a bit of time to finish a full meal this way, so try it when you have a bit of spare time. It is a good practice of awareness and will bring you back to the present moment.
Chewing your food properly is also crucial for healthy digestion. This is actually the first step of the digestive process, and swallowing without proper chewing can bring a spectrum of different issues including nutrient malabsorption, acid reflux, bloating, and other digestive issues. Inhaling your food will also likely lead you to overeat, since your body won’t have enough time to send the signal of fullness to your brain.
Avoid Snacking Between Meals
I will be the first to admit that this is easier said than done, but leaving enough time between meals for the body to process and digest your food is a great practice.
The rule of thumb here is to try to allow at least three hours in between meals. This gives your body space to properly absorb your previous meal and avoids excess food slowing down the process and settling longer in the digestive tract which can lead to toxin release and buildup.
Drinking warm water, tea, or infusions throughout the day helps boost your metabolism, absorb nutrients, and get rid of toxins.
If you are already in the habit of staying hydrated and can’t leave home without your water bottle you are already on a great track! Just try to allow some time between larger drinks and your meals. Up to 30 minutes before and at least 30 minutes after food is ideal. This will ensure you don’t wash out the food you eat before your body can absorb all of its nutrients.
Accompany your meals with a small cup of warm water or beverage of choice to help keep your digestion active without overwhelming the system.
Take a moment before digging into your meal to be grateful for the food that you get to enjoy! Whether you have a family tradition of prayer or acknowledgment before your meal, or just want to observe a few seconds in silence to give thanks for your meal, having this practice will open space to genuinely and mindfully enjoy your food
Practicing gratitude regularly is also a great way to cultivate positivity, improve mental health, and nourish your relationship with yourself and the world around you. Gratitude practices have actually been proven to improve overall health, supporting your immunity! So e thankful, take a breath, and bon appetit!