Mindful meals

Take the time to truly appreciate the meals you eat

By Edie Shaw-Ewald

Do you find yourself eating breakfast at the counter, lunch at your desk and dinner while driving?

In our busy lives we often eat while multitasking or become so hungry, bored or stressed that we shovel food into our mouths without a thought. This mindless eating can negatively affect our relationship with food and our health.

Mindful eating is a simple practice that can change the way you experience food. It can impact how much you eat, your satisfaction with meals, and create a more positive relationship with food for you and your family. It may even improve your health.

Start a mindful eating practice with your family and teach your children a skill that will nurture a healthy relationship with food.

The basics of mindful eating
• Eat at the table as a family as often as possible.
• Have a “no distractions rule”: no TV, laptops, phones, talk radio.
• Ask everyone to wait until each person is seated and ready to eat.
• Ask everyone to pause and breathe deeply and notice the food in front of them before a first bite is taken. Notice the smell and appearance of the meal.
• Everyone can give thanks for the food in silence or aloud, or simply take two or three deep breaths to let go of the daily stress and busyness.
• Eat slowly and put utensils down between bites.

Mindful eating conversations
Talk about the food as you are eating. Where did it come from? How did it get to your plate? Describe the smell, appearance, temperature, and taste. What is the texture of the food in your mouth? Is it crunchy or smooth?

Check-in with hunger
Ask your family members to rate their hunger. The hunger scale can be used for this exercise:
1 = extremely hungry
3 = uncomfortably hungry
5 = comfortable
7 = uncomfortably full
10 = extremely full.
Midway through the meal ask your family to check in with their hunger again. Are they satisfied, or do they need to eat more? The goal is to be comfortable after a meal – not uncomfortably full.

Stomach vs. emotional hunger
Mindless overeating is often connected to emotional hunger rather than stomach hunger. Teach your children to identify the difference between being physically hungry or experiencing stress or boredom that can lead to munching. Food will help with stomach hunger, but can’t help with problems with schoolwork or trouble with friends. Would it be better to tackle the homework together? Talk about the friend problem? Play a board game?

Mexicali Bowl

Here is a recipe with lots of flavor, textures and colour. This style of meal is often called a Buddha Bowl; so appropriate for this mindful eating article.

• Cooked brown rice or quinoa
• Cooked black beans (if canned: drained and rinsed)
• Cooked corn kernels
• Diced green, yellow, red peppers
• Diced avocado
• Grated Monterey jack or mozzarella
• Salsa
• Tortilla Chips

Put all ingredients in serving bowls and let everyone create their own bowl.