We rush through eating and otherwise practice mindless eating for a number of reasons. One is that it looks like the norm. We observe people around us and they tend to do the same. It is cultural. Another reason is our indoctrination. We block out certain things which our intuition and common sense will tell us about if we would listen.
Certain types of ‘food’ such as animal foods, meat, dairy, eggs, honey, organs, bi-products, etc. are not designed for our bodies or our souls. Artificial flavors and chemicals aren't nourishment. Highly processed foods take us away from nature and are equivalent to eating ABC-food (food that's ‘Already Been Chewed’). Highly processed foods are like eating food someone else has already chewed, their saliva having started to break down the foods and extracting nutrients. Eating is unfortunately too often looked at as no big deal and something not requiring attention. After all we've been doing it all our lives.
Not only is it common practice to eat mindlessly, it is common practice to shop, cook, or buy from restaurants mindlessly. Being mindful about all of those things is really important. Vegans generally have gained some mindfulness about what they are eating.
Being vegan doesn't necessarily mean we are doing the best we can to eat mindfully. One can be vegan while eating a lot of oil, highly processed foods, artificial chemicals, and gmo's. One can be vegan and still not pay attention to chewing, what mood he or she is in when he or she prepares food and so forth. Food is the fuel for our bodies. Now if we put diesel into a Mercedes we are quickly going to ruin the car. If we put gas mixed with water into our vehicle we aren't going to be able to drive it. As organic life forms, we are more complex than vehicles, and we have more opportunities to screw up our fueling than we do at a gas station with our vehicles.
However, while we are complex it isn't hard to understand what type of fuel we need. Being mindful while making shopping lists, meal plans, shopping, preparing food and consuming it, provides a lot of help not only in learning what we need to eat and avoid eating to be well but, also in partaking of this alchemical process in a way best for our bodies. Eating is a process of blending the food with yourself. When you eat you and your food become one. This requires mindfulness to be done to the best of our abilities. Many Americans have issues with emotional eating - over eating, binge eating, and withdrawals from eating. The withdrawals I speak of are abstaining from, differing from fasting. When one fasts with intention; to cleanse, to improve spiritually, and so forth while practicing mindfulness, one can have a positive outcome. What I am referring to is when people stop eating as a sort of self-punishment.
Ways you can start mindful eating
1. Research it further
2. Give adequate attention and thought to what you are buying
3. Give adequate attention and care to what you are preparing
4. Set the scene to eat and create an ambiance that is calming and makes you happy. This can mean just setting the table to look nice. It can mean bringing flowers to the table, eating by candle light, choosing dishware that you enjoy, and even for some picnicking from time to time.
5. Pay attention when you eat and do it more gradually. Smell the food, feel the textures in your mouth before you chew, chew slowly and pay attention to the whole process including how you feel when you are finished.
For many people # 5 is the most difficult and seems tedious for a while. It's understandable. It's far from what we are used to and we live in a fast paced culture that encourages us to move ever faster, to produce and be efficient. It doesn't encourage us to move slowly when doing things we can do more rapidly. But, the thing is we cannot transform into our best without going slowly!
Image: Susan Placek/CocoonWorx