How to Have a More Meaningful Meal

Distracted eating denies us the pure experience of our food. Follow these simple suggestions to nourish yourself with every bite.

How often do you take the time notice the refreshing tang of a ripe blueberry, or the warmth of bread hot from the oven? Eating mindfully is perhaps one of the most difficult challenges we face when it comes to mealtime. Too often we find ourselves eating in front of the television, at our desk, or even in the car. Not only does distracted eating deny us the pure experience of a meal, but studies have shown that it can also lead to accidental overeating and weight gain. Eating mindfully allows us to press pause and enjoy the present moment.

By enjoying a mindful meal, we are able to notice the smells, colors, textures, and flavors of our food. Savoring each bite allows the mind to savor the experience. If you’re new to mindful eating, the following simple suggestions can help you get started.

1. Eat at the Table

Yes, the couch is comfy. Yes, the car is convenient. But you have a kitchen table for a reason, and it’s just dying to be used! Rather than camping out in front of the television, enjoy your meal at the kitchen table. It’ll be glad to have you back.

2. Silence Distractions

Too often we spend our mealtime plugged into electronics. Whether it’s scrolling through Instagram or catching up on Will and Grace reruns, consider eliminating such distractions, as they can disrupt your ability to focus on the food.

3. Set the Mood

Break out the candles, the tablecloth, a vase full of fresh daisies, or anything else you need to make your mealtime feel like a special experience. Pretend you’re cooking dinner for a group of friends or family, and treat yourself with that same level of love and respect.

4. Use Real Ingredients

Healthy and whole ingredients can completely transform mealtime. Using real ingredients, like hormone-free meats and whole fruits and vegetables, allows you to experience the pure flavors of the food. Eating seasonally helps as well. As you eat, focus on the taste and texture of each bite. The more you do this, the better you’ll get at recognizing the effect each season has on your food’s flavor.

5. Focus on the Process

Don’t get me wrong; I love the convenience of a frozen fresh meal or a pizza delivered to my front door. That being said, preparing a meal from start to finish can be an incredibly sensory experience. Enjoy the sound of the knife on the cutting board, the smell of vegetables sizzling over the stove, or the sensation of kneading dough for homemade bread. When it comes time to eat, you can sit down and think, “Woah, I made this!”

6. Dine with Company

When you eat with a friend or loved one, you’re engaged in a social experience, and less likely to scarf down your food without noticing. Take the time to appreciate your company as well as what’s on your plate. Discuss the tastes of your food. This can be especially fun in restaurants when you’re not familiar with the ingredients that were used. Can you pick up the hint of rosemary in the grilled vegetables, or the burst of citrus in the chicken?

7. Eat with Chopsticks

Even if you’re used to eating with chopsticks, using them to eat a croissant is no easy feat. Chopsticks will naturally slow down your eating process, forcing you to notice each bite. Try this with all of your favorite foods, even if that means picking apart a brownie. You may learn some surprising things by approaching your meals from this new perspective.

8. Have Dessert

Treating yourself is a wonderful way to be mindful and practice self love. But instead of eating those cookies straight from the jar, set them on a plate and alongside a glass of milk. Savor each bite, and appreciate the experience of your treat.