Mindfully Eating at the Dinner Table: A Place to Start
Does your dinner table sound like its is always in a state of chaos? Are you feeding 5 mouths and each is eating at a different pace with after school activities still on their mind? How do we slow down at the dinner table? This practice comes with becoming familiar with both your surroundings, the environment and the ways in which we can support a more mindful approach to eating.
“Digestion involves a complex series of hormonal signals between the gut and the nervous system, and it seems to take about 20 minutes for the brain to register satiety (fullness). If someone eats too quickly, satiety may occur after overeating instead of putting a stop to it. There's also reason to believe that eating while we're distracted by activities like driving or typing may slow down or stop digestion in a manner similar to how the "fight or flight" response does. And if we're not digesting well, we may be missing out on the full nutritive value of some of the food we're consuming.” -- Harvard Health
Mindful eating begins with evaluating your relationship with food. When you’re eating, do you find yourself taking breaks in between bites? Or do you suddenly look down on your plate and begin to feel the dissatisfaction of your disappearing plate? Our bites often go unnoticed because we’ve anticipated our meal and are ready to dive in. What if we began to reframe our minds and began slowing down and considering how we ate versus how much we ate? With our little ones, we have the opportunity to set the tone for the day and teach them the benefit of taking a moment to slow down and enjoy the meal.
The next time you sit down to dinner, consider the following questions:
When are you eating?
Set a specific time for dinner each night. Allow your family to have input as to when a good time to eat would be. That way, you are inviting your family to feel valued. Mindfully place their opinions in the forefront of your mind.
Where are you eating?
Take a look at your surroundings. Are you eating in a space that feels peaceful? Are you eating in the first place you found once dinner was ready? Find a space that feels special to your family. Set it up in a way that reflects peace and tranquility. Own your space. Take time to clean it after each meal and ensure the table is only used for eating.
Why are you eating?
It sounds a little silly to think about, but are you eating just to eat or eating for fuel? Are you eating because it’s there in front of you? It’s easy to eat because it’s part of our routine, try to stop and think for a moment about why you’re eating and what each food on your plate brings to you and your baby.
How much are you eating?
We often do not take notice of how much we are eating at any given time because we eat what’s on our plate. Sometimes we eat so fast that we go in for seconds without taking a few minutes to let our food digest.
We know that as moms and dads you have a million things pulling you from one place to another, and bringing your attention (and energy) with it. Try to take the time to make your meals the one time in the day that you slow down. It may not be possible every day, but even just thinking about it makes a difference.
- Be creative with your mindful decisions at the table. Set a timer for 20 minutes and try to eat through the full 20 minutes.
- Try one approach at a time - one question at a time. Try eating alone once a week in complete silence so that you are alone in thought.
- Renew your sense of pleasure with eating. Redefine your relationship with eating. It is something we could all benefit from. Take a moment to think about WHY you eat and the method in which you are eating.
- Eat with your non-dominant hand in an attempt to slow your pace.
Young children are able to lead by example. If you begin these practices at home, you are leading by example and beginning a wonderful merriment between eating and mindfulness. It’s important that your baby learns from a young age to think about what she is eating and develop healthy habits around food.
At Amara, quality is the most important driver in what we do. When we had our kids, we had every intention of making homemade but between work, housework and diaper changes - it became more of a dream than a reality. When we saw the heavily processed pouches and jars available on market, we knew we had to bring a better option for parents. Amara uses a unique technique that locks in the quality of the fresh fruits and vegetables. Taste the difference, because your baby sure will!