Thirty seconds that could stop your overeating

Six deep breaths

Six deep breaths could transform the attitude you begin a meal with. © Laura Eades 2013 all rights reserved

I think mindfulness might be able to help our eating habits. It’s a hunch.

It’s a hunch that’s backed up by the reading materials for Week 1 of this free mindfulness based stress reduction programme. I’d just like to highlight this video (Introduction to Mindful Eating by Michelle Duval), which is so articulate, and this article called Mouthfuls of Mindfulness by Jan Chozen Bays, which is personal and true in a really entertaining way. The article prompted me to buy her book, Mindful Eating, which is proving wise and detailed and practical in its approach to turning your awareness to different kinds of hunger and how to satisfy each of them. 

Start by starting your meals right

I recently adopted a new happy eating habit I made up for myself. I invented it because I eat very fast, very impatiently, and I wanted to look after the beginnings and endings of meals better (I still need to work a bit on the endings!). I call it Six Deep Breaths. I made up the ritual before I started the mindfulness course, and now I see that I had already understood something.

What’s the Six Deep Breaths habit? 

It’s simple: take six deep breaths before you start eating. I do it like this (because having a ritual helps a habit to take hold):

  1. Prepare all the food you plan to eat for each meal and set it on the table or on a tray. I even include my caffeinated drinks in this. I’m going to eat from what’s here, I’m not going to visit the fridge for more of this and that.
  2. I sit in front of the food. I take three deep breaths just taking in my surroundings. This is more challenging than it sounds – often, I’ve picked something up and have it to my lips before I’ve even realised. And often if I’m eating in company, I’m in the middle of talking, or fuss about getting us all to the table while the food is hot, and then before I know it I’ve begun.
  3. Then I take three deep breaths admiring the food and drink that’s before me, taking in the colours and flavours and smells. Often I get distracted again and kind of have to start again. And often I notice that I’m breathing in a rushed impatient way even while taking the deep breaths – crikey, they seem to take forever!!

 It works!

This week, food is tasting better than ever. I’ve found sometimes that I had too much food on my tray – that’s a first for me, who finishes any plate you give her) and so I’ve taken some back for later. I’ve often eaten outside, too, and being in the fresh air and really enjoying the pause has been a real pleasure.

But I’ve also been stressed and impatient to get back to my computer. I’ve had to really force myself to sit and eat away from my workspace. And it’s not mindful to read while you eat – not even blogposts about mindful eating.

Now: Can I make this habit stick?

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Have you tried mindfulness in relation to eating habits? Am I onto something? I’d love to hear your comments below (click on the grey ‘plus’ button under the post to open the comments section)