Chef Eric Stein, MS RD CCE

Wellness Chef | Registered Dietitian
Certified Culinary Educator

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I Want to Eat More Mindfully

Posted: February 1, 2012 8:11 PM

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I first became aware of the term mindful eating when I was in culinary school. Part of my final coursework was a summer externship program, and It was at this time when I really started diving into Spa Cuisine and made it my goal to seek out the best experiences. I was fortunate enough to line up work at both The Golden Door in Escondido, under the guidance of Chef Michel Stroot, as well as at the Chopra Center at La Costa Resort and Spa. However, my intro to mindful eating came by chance when I made a visit to Mirival Spa on my way to California. Mirival has always been a trend setter in the Spa Cuisine and Destination Spa worlds, so I wanted to see what all the buzz was about.

Mirivals' resident dietitian, Lisa, facilitated a class simply called "Mindful Eating". During this "class", she brought her guests to breakfast where they all ate together. This wasn't any ordinary breakfast though. All of the participants ate in silence. The guiding principle to this activity was to actually enjoy your food. Imagine eating without distraction. This is a great practice because it encourages you to take the foods that you put in your mouth, chew properly, and realize when you have had enough to eat.

It was very opportune to have been able to gain experience in mindful eating as a prelude to all the other things I learned about spa cuisine that summer. There are so many ways that mindfulness and eating are related.

According to the Center for Mindful Eating, these are the Principles of Mindfulness:

• Mindfulness is deliberately paying attention, non-judgmentally.

• Mindfulness encompasses both internal processes and external environments.

• Mindfulness is being aware of what is present for you mentally, emotionally and physically in each moment.

• With practice, mindfulness cultivates the possibility of freeing yourself of reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting.

• Mindfulness promotes balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is.

Some benefits of eating more mindfully include becoming aware of how the primary purpose of food is nourishment. As you become more aware as your food, you also begin to enjoy the process of eating more as well. When you pay attention to eating more slowly it opens up the ability to acknowledge the feeling of satiety, rather than eating too quickly and then ending up feeling full and bloated.

Mindful eating in the ways described above is a powerful practice, but there are so many more aspects that can be considered including global impact, balanced eating, and dietary awareness. Please follow my tweets under the hashtag #mindfuleating to learn more about how you can practice mindful eating everyday.

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