Mindful eating, or intentional eating, is eating while being present in your body and mind. Essentially mindful eating is a meditative practice where one pays attention to the act of eating—intentionally. Many tools, such as putting down utensils between bites, are used to encourage presence in the eating process. Another key component of mindful eating is body awareness and learning to recognize the body’s signals for hunger and satiation. There are many benefits to incorporating more mindful eating at work, including increased energy and better digestion.
Benefits of Mindful Eating
- Better digestion.
Better digestion starts with better chewing, which mindful eating encourages. Eating more slowly supports more chewing and also supports healthy digestion. And the better your digestion, the better you’ll feel. Expect less brain fog and sluggishness after mindfully eating. Afternoons will be much easier after a fully digested lunch.
- More energy.
The better your food digests, the more energy you’ll have after lunch or your snack. Eating more slowly and thoroughly allows the body to access more of the nutrients in your food and makes them more absorbable. A healthy snack or lunch doesn’t mean anything to the body unless it can be absorbed. Eating mindfully by eating slowly and chewing more thoroughly gives your body more energy. You’ll breeze through your to-do list after a mindful lunch.
- Reduces overeating.
By eating more slowly and consciously and paying attention to your body while eating, you’ll learn to recognize the signs that you’re full or getting there. A key feature of mindless eating is eating past the body’s natural limits. By mindfully eating, you’ll practice listening to when your body is truly full and stop eating then. In the work setting, this supports productivity by increasing energy after lunch. Overeating can lead to feeling full, bloated, and foggy. Eating the amount of food that your body needs allows it to function optimally.
- Helps you relax and focus.
Mindful eating is a type of meditation. Meditation happens whenever we consciously set our attention on something and keep returning when distracted. Your breath, a candle, an audio guide, and eating are all focal points for meditation. Mindful eating, of course, has its differences, mainly that eating is happening, but you can still receive all the benefits of meditation (relaxation, clarity, focus) from mindful eating.
The next sections will cover ways to eat mindfully at work.
An effective way to eat mindfully is to eat slowly. And, by bringing your full attention to eating, you’ll naturally slow down and chew more thoroughly. Eating slowly is a classic meditation technique and one you can take advantage of at work. You could set a timer for mindful eating; that can help you eat more slowly. This practice often includes trying to chew each bite a certain amount of time (like 15 seconds) or placing utensils down between bites. Chewing more, in addition to helping digestion, helps you eat more slowly.
Recognize Hunger Signals
Learning to recognize your body’s hunger signals is a key part of mindful eating. When you know that you’re starting to get hungry, you can eat a snack or start lunch instead of ignoring it and winding up irritable, which is a liability at work. Mindful eating also includes learning to recognize when your body is starting to get full. This will give you a better gauge of when to stop eating. If we’re not mindful of these signals, it’s easy to eat too much or too little.
Schedule your Lunch
Mindful eating starts before your meal. Planning your lunch is an effective way to eat mindfully. It also gives you the opportunity to plan to eat with co-workers or friends. Your mindful eating can be a quiet backdrop to pleasant socialization. If you’re eating alone, it’s still helpful to schedule your lunch. It is intentionally approaching a time of intentional action. If you’re eating alone, consider going to the park or somewhere outside to eat. Find some greenery and get some sunshine; it’s so much easier to be mindful with a beautiful tree in your view.
Engage All Your Senses
When you’re eating your lunch mindfully, use all of your senses. Taste is the obvious sense involved in eating, but by using your other senses, you will more easily eat mindfully. Your sense of smell especially is linked to taste, so by taking the time to smell your food, it will taste better, and it can be a step in eating slowly. Engaging your senses is a key way to eat mindfully. Let’s say you’re having a simple lunch of microwave ramen. Listen to the sound of the lid pulling away, the way the noodles sound in the carton, and the rip of the seasoning packet. Look at the dried vegetables and broth powder. Watch the water pour into the cup. Feel the handle of the microwave and the weight of the carton. All of your senses can be used to make the entire process of eating more mindful.
Look At Your Motivations
It’s normal to eat when you’re stressed, scared, sad, or angry. Since the workplace can often be a source of stress, there’s an opportunity to observe any habits of stress eating. Change starts with noticing and accepting; try to be kind to yourself. Mindful eating in replacement of stress eating can help channel energy appropriately and productively. Mindful eating can be applied to stress eating by simply being present in the experience.
Workplace Health and BioFunctional Health Solutions (BHS)
BHS has been helping workplaces eat more healthfully for more than a decade. Between customized nutrition plans and employee education, the whole workplace can effortlessly eat better and more mindfully. Wellness programs in the workplace increase productivity and employee health at the same time. It’s simple, employees who are well-nourished will have more resources to complete projects, find innovative solutions and relate to clients and coworkers. Help your team become healthier and improve productivity with a little help from BHS. Reach out to us with questions or to get started!