Set mealtimes. Set your table. Sit at your table to eat.
As much as possible, set mealtimes in your home. Sometimes that seems almost impossible, but try to do so for at least one meal each day. It doesn’t even have to be the same meal every day. Maybe on weekends it’s easier to get everyone together for breakfast and during the week everyone gathers for supper. Make sure everyone stays at the table until everyone is finished eating. It’s not only good for your health to slow down while eating, it’s a great time for conversation, to get to know what’s going on in each other’s lives.
The point is to gather at the table with no distractions.
Set your table. Even if it’s a tray. In our travel trailer we don’t have a table, but we both have trays. For our meals we pull out the trays, sit beside each other on the sofa, and eat.
Make family meals an event, a tradition.
Do you have mealtimes already in your home? Do you involve your kids in helping to set the table and clear it after the meal is completed?
Tip number 3 is to think about where your food comes from.
What do you have on your plate? A protein, maybe? A vegetable or two? Perhaps a starch?
Where does that food come from? Think beyond the grocery store. Think about the farmer who grew the food. About his family. The people he employs. Think about the earth where those veggies grew. Think about the baker who prepared the bread. If you eat animal protein, think about the animals who supply our food.
Think about the workers who took the raw food sources and processed the food to have it ready for purchase.
Then move up the chain to the grocery store. Think about the person stocking the shelves. The cashier who rang up the purchase. The person who bagged the groceries.
Next, bring it closer to home. Think about the person who prepared the meal you are eating. Do you know the person? Are you eating at home? If you’re in a restaurant, think about the chef, the server, the bus boy, the dishwasher.
The point is to slow down enough to consider all that goes into the preparation of our food and to practice gratitude for receiving nourishment.
Have you ever grown your own vegetables or visited a working farm? How can you incorporate this practice into your daily life?
My first tip for mindful eating is to quiet your surroundings from electronics or outside noise. Turn off the TV. Silence your phone. Better yet, put phones in another room.
Focus on talking with the people with whom you’re sharing your meal. Talk about your day, your dreams, your fears, the food, the weather. Whatever you want to discuss. You get the idea.
Watching TV or surfing your phone while eating pulls you out of the moment, away from the present event of sharing food with others. Even if you’re eating alone, do it in a way that honors your own presence.
The point is not to dine in silence, but to silence the outside noise that pulls you out of the present. Focus on the meal, the company, your surroundings. Just BE with your food and your family and friends.
In addition to making your table mates feel important and heard, tuning out and turning off electronics offers health benefits. According to this article from The Cleveland Clinic says that watching TV while eating can lead to weight gain as it leads to distracted eating.
Do you currently eat with the TV on or surfing your phone? Are you willing to try one meal without the outside noise? I’d love for you to come back and tell me your thoughts after you try it.