If you’re reading this now, it’s likely that you practice yoga poses diligently on your mat and maybe even cultivate presence on your meditation cushion. Even so, weaving what we learn in these spaces into day-to-day life can sometimes feel elusive. Fortunately, there are simple, easy, yet profound ways to bring mindfulness and presence to everyday endeavors—particularly our meals.
Mindful eating can completely change the way we interact with and feel about our meals. Food is a spiritual experience, and so your relationship to it should be one of respect, appreciation, and enjoyment. Healthy eating isn’t meant to make you feel unhappy. In fact, it should be the opposite: It should make you feel amazing and uplifted, and gives you the energy and vitality you need to be more and do more.
Try some or all of these mindful eating tips from Dr. Robert Kiltz, author of Living Your Best Life: How to Think, Eat, and Connect your Way to a Better Flow.
Say thank you for the food you have
You don’t have to be religious to say grace before a meal. Simply saying thank you for this abundant meal and respecting the source from which it came is an empowering way for you to connect to your food. Thank the farmers who grew your vegetables or raised your cattle. Think about everything that your food has gone through before arriving on your plate, and take a moment to appreciate and respect that process. Saying thank you will fill you with abundant joy and love and will make you feel a greater connection to the universe and your food.
Slow down while you eat
Take the time to chew and enjoy your meal. Sit down with it and allow your senses to take over. How does the meal smell, taste, and feel? Make mealtime a tactile experience and don’t rush to eat. Stay in the moment with your meal. If you find your thoughts drifting away from your meal or bouncing into the future with what you are going to do next, gently bring your focus back to the meal.
Notice the smells; savor the taste and texture in your mouth as you are eating. Bringing the focus to the present moment while you eat will help you slow down and enjoy your food. This connection also helps you appreciate your food and creates a positive vibrational frequency, which results in happier mealtimes.
Avoid multitasking at mealtimes
Put down your mobile phone, switch off the television, and close your laptop when you are eating. When you are distracted, you cannot consciously eat your meal and enjoy it the same way you can when you are solely focused on it. Avoid engaging in activities that are distracting or noisy while you are eating, and seek some solitude with your food. If you are eating with your family or loved ones, focus on sharing the experience of the meal with them. Talk about the taste, texture, and smell of your menu.
Find the joy in your food
We focus so much about what we shouldn’t eat that often we get stressed or anxious at mealtimes because we have created a negative association with our food. This ends up being the reason that we do not enjoy our meals because instead of focusing on the experience of the food, we are focused only on what we are not allowed to consume. We think about all of the things we cannot eat or shouldn’t eat and then reach for something healthier, not because we choose that food, but because we are acting on conflicting motivations.
Learn to seek out the joy in your food. Experiment with different types of vegetables and ingredients until you find something that makes your body, mind, and spirit feel harmonious. Don’t be afraid to try new things, even when they are outside of your comfort zone. Experience the joy in your food by eating the things that make you feel happy and connected to your spirit. After all, fresh food makes us feel alive and creates an inner vibration of wellness.
Trust your intuition
Healthy eating provides us with a world of opportunity; it’s not just about salads and nuts. There are many great websites that can help you find easy and delicious recipes using the ingredients that you like most. Listen to the inner wisdom of your body to guide you with your eating. If you feel bad about eating something or that you shouldn’t, it may be that your body is trying to tell you to reach for a healthier alternative.
When it comes to your diet, trust in your intuition. Your higher self knows what is best for you, and you will have a sense when you eat something if your body likes it or not. A lot of it will be common sense, but sometimes you may have to listen to the cues that your body is providing you. Don’t keep trying to eat something because it is good for you. Sometimes you will simply not like a certain food, and that is okay. Move on to something else.
When we look after our homes and our cars, we spend a lot of time finding out what the problem is, asking questions, and getting to the core of the matter. Why would we not do the same with the most important asset of all, our bodies?
Follow your intuition and lead your body to a place of higher vibration by eating food from the earth that is plant-based and high in nutrition. Just listen to how your body responds when you allow yourself the luxury of eating this way.
Share your food with intention
Have you ever noticed the way you feel when you are sitting around a dinner table with good friends or family sharing an incredible home cooked meal? Sharing in the experience of a meal is a great way to connect with your food and enhance the experience by enjoying it with others. Our hearts expand and our spirits soar when we share and give to others, and there is no greater gift you can bestow on someone than the gift of a home cooked meal prepared with love and attention.
When you go to a fast-food restaurant, the experience of sharing a burger and fries with your family is not the same as having a picnic with them in a park with things that you have prepared in the home. The energy that you bring to the food when you prepare it, cooked or not, is paramount to the experience of sharing a meal.
Your intention when you cook for others is to make them happy and fulfilled. That intention carries such a positive vibration that it permeates through the food and into the people who ingest it. This is why the experience of sitting down to a meal with family is very different than going out to a fast-food restaurant. Have you ever noticed that you can taste the passion of a chef at a really great restaurant? The food tastes brilliant because they love what they do and they love to share that passion with diners.
Vote for a healthier planet with your dollars
We are getting better as a society and have been placing a greater emphasis on locally grown produce, gardening, and clean food. Our collective consciousness has been rising, and so too have our standards for what we are willing to accept in our lives. We know that the way we have been doing things is not sustainable and does not help the planet or each other.
Every time we visit our grocery stores, we have a choice to make. If our resources allow, we can buy locally grown organic produce and humanely and ethically raised meat from places where the animals actually get to enjoy their lives and feel good. When you head out to the store to buy your groceries, think about every item that you put into your cart. If you are unsure about something, find out. Know what you are putting into your body. This is perhaps one of the best things you can do to honor and love yourself, ensuring a long and healthy life.
Dr. Robert Kiltz is a board-certified OB/GYN and reproductive endocrinologist, and Founder and Director of CNY Fertility, featured in the Wall Street Journal, Today Show, and CNBC for helping shape the future of fertility medicine. Dr. Kiltz applies a holistic approach to medicine, working collaboratively on his patients’ physical being as well as their emotional and spiritual selves.
This essay is adapted from his latest book, Living Your Best Life: How to Think, Eat, and Connect your Way to a Better Flow, courtesy of Waterside Productions. This book provides guidance on various self-help techniques such as the power of mediation, eliminating stress, the benefits of yoga, and listening to your inner voice. For more information, check out Dr. Kiltz’s website and YouTube Channel, or follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.