Today's post is brought to you by the lovely Ceri Jones of Natural Kitchen Adventures. I met Ceri a couple of years ago at a food blog conference and we've stayed in touch via our blogs and social media. A total inspiration, Ceri quit her job and crossed the Atlantic to follow her dreams and become a natural chef, studying at Bauman Collage. She's now back in London splitting her time between freelancing, working as a natural chef, and teaching healthy cooking classes. I love her level-headed and fad free approach to healthy eating, so I was thrilled when she agreed to share her thoughts on mindful eating here on The Muffin Myth.
Mindful, or mind full?
I have a question for you. Which do you think is the healthiest way to eat? Paleo, gluten Free, lactose-free, vegan, plant-based, vegetarian, raw, high fat, low fat, dukan, atkins, weight watchers, slimming world, yadda yadda…
Would you believe me if I said the healthiest way to eat is mindfully?
The English dictionary states;
“If you are mindful of something, you think about it and consider it when taking action”
The action in this case is of course eating, but mindfulness extends to any adjective.
If you wolf down your breakfast whilst getting dressed and running out the door, eat draped over a laptop / checking instagram / watching TV, or even chatting to friends without stopping to breathe then its unlikely - unless your brain works on multitasking superhuman levels - that you’re not thinking about and considering your food whilst eating.
So that defines mindful eating. And I’m the first to admit I’m not very good at it.
I only became aware of the idea of mindful eating a short while ago, though my interest in health and nutrition spans nearly a decade. In that time I have followed weight watchers, a chronic low fat diet, strict Paleo, and plenty of other nutritional protocol paths that don’t have a simple definition. I don’t believe I did any of that mindfully. I spent years researching and playing around with what I was eating, but at no point did it occur to me, that how I was eating was just as influential in determining my health and my comfort eating demons.
My chef tutor at Bauman College - Chef Lizette Marx - was a huge advocate for mindful eating. Each lunchtime at college we’d sit down to eat the fruits of our morning labour, and Lizette always insisted we laid the table, and sat down together to eat as a family, rather than shoveling in food on foot via multiple tasting spoons. Chefs are notorious for not eating proper meals, and this principle was a great foundation for us to build on. One day, we even tried eating in silence. Everyone commented they were noticing each flavour with intricate detail on their tongue, they ate slowly, and chewed thoroughly. I, on the other hand, felt the whole exercise completely painful. To me it felt like we weren’t talking to each other because we’d had an argument, and I hate silence. Whilst my mind was full of these thoughts, I believe I’d actually missed the point of the exercise – I wasn’t eating mindfully I was just eating – with a mind full!
Eating mindfully is still something I continue to battle with on a daily basis. As a freelancer I’m a busy person and my day doesn’t have a set structure. I often eat my breakfast checking my morning emails, I snack on morsels of food throughout the day whilst working as a chef (sometimes I don’t even realise I’m doing it), and then if I’m flying solo at home after a long day it is highly likely I’m slumped in front of the telly.
But, I am committed to change. Buying a dining table was a huge part of this commitment at home, as was ensuring I sit down to lunch and a proper break on a chef day.
So why is it so important? For me, I think it stems down to a feeling of satiation, and contentment after eating. If you’re not paying attention to what your eating and taking time to savour each mouthful, how do you know when to stop? If you don’t remember eating, you might just go back for seconds. Eating is such a pleasure - full of flavours, textures and joy. Do you really want to miss out on all of that?
A while back I was out with a friend who wanted to eat a dirty burger and chips, whilst I true to form opted for a salad. She assumed I’d be entirely disproving, and would spend the rest of the day making her feel guilty about it. Nutritionally speaking of course I wouldn’t promote burger and chips as a healthful choice, but as a treat, and to satisfy an occasional desire for the craving soul? A resounding yes. I insisted that if she was going to eat this meal (a very rare treat for her) then she better well enjoy every single mouthful. Slowly. Treasured. Mindfully.
Feel overwhelmed by the idea of mindful eating? Try one meal a day. Try eating breakfast mindfully for a week or sitting down to lunch away from your computer. Try setting the table for an evening meal, lighting some candles and turning off the television. Try eating the most sinful slice of cake you could ever possibly imagine, and do it mindfully. I bet it tastes a whole lot better, and won’t leave you craving for a second piece.
I’ll be trying along with you.
Ceri Jones is a 30-something Londoner and was recently lucky enough to make her passion for wholesome food her living by training as a Natural Chef at Bauman Collge of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts in California. Ceri now works as a natural chef, food writer and healthy cooking instructor. Ceri has written her blog Natural Kitchen Adventures which focuses on whole foods, paleo and gluten-free recipes, since 2011. Through her blog she explores new ingredients, cuisines and recipes, one kitchen adventure at a time. You also find her on Facebook , twitter and instagram.