Press pause on the to-do list and take a Joyful Eating moment to enjoy the full sensory experience of eating without the incessant internal dialogue, guilt and shame.
We often think of eating as merely a way to fuel our bodies and provide the energy and nourishment to go about our day. However, how we eat can also affect our digestion, satiation and satisfaction.
Tuning into the experience of eating can benefit our health through the initiation of the relaxation response, also known as rest-and-digest.
In a relaxed state, our body is better able to digest the food we provide it. This is because an awareness that we are eating can initiate digestion and improve blood flow to the digestive tract.
Furthermore, when we are relaxed and aware, we are better able to tune into our bodies’ responses to what we’re eating. We can acknowledge our hunger, satiety, satisfaction and enjoyment.
Take a moment to tune in
Often, in our busy lives, the mind chatter can feel relentless.
Our minds may be occupied with endless to-do lists so that we feel we don’t have the time to relax, unwind and eat.
As a consequence, we may multitask our eating. We may bring to the table our to-do list. Or continuously think about what we should or should not be eating or what is healthy or unhealthy.
We may distract ourselves from our eating as we feel uncomfortable doing nothing but eat. Or it may be that we feel guilty and ashamed of enjoying food, as we believe it reflects our weight or others’ perception of us.
We may believe that we can’t control ourselves around certain foods once we allow ourselves to enjoy them. Or it may be that we fear the pleasure of eating. We may believe that taking time for self-care is something that we need to earn, that there is something we need to achieve or tick off our to-do list before we deserve pleasure.
The thing is, feeling this way about self-care and food is the result of diet culture. It is not a personal failing.
When was the last time you prioritised joy in your daily schedule?
Eating can provide an opportunity to tune in to the sensory experience of the moment, to the sight, smell, touch, sound and taste of the food or drink we’re consuming.
Focused attention on the moment and the one task at hand—in this case, eating—can help relax our body and calm our mind.
In this way, eating can be a mindfulness practice.
Taking time to relax and draw our attention to the sensory experience of eating can help us go about our day in a more calm and focused way. Taking a moment for ourselves may help us be more productive in our work output and social interactions and bring joy into our day.
What is a Joyful Eating moment?
A Joyful Eating moment is when our full attention is on the food before us, and all self-deprecating thoughts, food rules and to-do lists fade away as we experience the joy of eating. It is time to pause and be fully aware of the sensory experience of eating and our body.
Take a Joyful Eating moment
Practising Joyful Eating needn’t take much of our time.
We eat multiple times a day, anyway. So, why not use our eating moments as an opportunity to reflect, tune in and enjoy the moment?
Through taking regular Joyful Eating moments, such as once a day or once a week, we’ll hopefully begin to recognise how most of our thoughts do not serve us to nourish and care for our bodies. With time, it may get easier to ignore the mind chatter and be fully present with the sensory experience of the moment.
How to take a Joyful Eating moment
A Joyful Eating moment involves taking time before, during or after eating, drawing our full attention to our eating.
It involves turning off distractions, quietening our mind and becoming present with what is—the sensory input of the moment—to the sight, smell, touch, sound and taste of the moment.
A Joyful Eating moment can begin with noticing our breath, sounds or smells around us, or sensations in our body such as hunger, discomfort or fatigue.
It can involve noticing why we are eating—is it hunger, habit, behaviour, belief or food rules that initiate our eating?
A Joyful Eating moment involves eating when we are hungry and stopping when we are satisfied. It is being curious about how our body responds to the types and volumes of food we choose to eat.
We are joyfully eating when we no longer eat to external rules, to finish everything on our plate or until no chips remain in the packet.
Certain experiences, such as dining in the dark or mindfulness practices, can help us to take a joyful eating moment.
Sharing our Joyful Eating moments
I use my social media platforms to share Joyful Eating moments in the form of quotes, book excerpts and personal experiences to remind myself and others to take a moment to be present with and enjoy the eating experience.
I’d love for you to join me in sharing your #joyfuleatingmoment
Want to learn more about Joyful Eating?
You may enjoy these blogs:
- My philosophy of Joyful Eating
- Savouring every mouthful
- Why am I eating like this is my last slice of tiramisu ever?
Joyful Eating: How to Break Free of Diets and Make Peace with Your Body
“… practical tools to help people release their sabotaging thoughts, enabling them to eat more intuitively and find joy in the moment.” — Michelle Stanton, author of The Timeless World.