In one of the tales from Mahabharata, Krishna saves the exiled Pandavas from the wrath of the hungry sage Durvasa by eating one left-over grain of rice from Draupadi’s kitchen and making the whole universe feel satiated. This story teaches us valuable lessons about how every grain of food helps each living being sustain themselves. And when we pay attention to every morsel of food we eat, we practice mindful eating.
What is Mindful Eating?
When we talk about mindful eating, the foremost thing that springs to our mind is having a healthy diet for a fit life. But more than that, mindful eating is about respecting the food we eat, the chain of efforts that goes into producing, procuring and preparing it, while bearing in mind that there are millions of people who are not privileged enough to have one square meal a day.
Oftentimes, we hog our food, driven by negative emotions, resulting in eating more than we need. With overeating come health-related scares, such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases, etc. Due to physical discomfort caused by diseases, our mind gets disturbed, leading to fatigue, lack of concentration, depression, and so on. So, yes, mindful eating is also connected to our physical and mental wellness.
Teaching Our Children to Eat Mindfully
Imbibing awareness towards food in our children will go a long way in not only the healthy growth of their mind and body but also in the shaping of their lifestyle and character. By engaging all their five senses while eating, they would be able to bond with the food, understand each flavour, and relish the taste of every item. And this, in turn, will satiate them quicker, thus preventing the chances of bingeing.
Food is fuel for the body and keeps our mind energetic and alert too. But, how? Impart to your kids the benefit of different vitamins and minerals that we get from our food. Allow them to reflect on how each food they eat, makes them feel. For example, sugary drinks can give them a momentary high but will make them feel lethargic in a short while. But a bowlful of fresh yoghurt is sure to lift their mood. Give them food for thought by explaining how each nutrient helps the different parts of the body to stay fit and strong, and yet can be harmful if consumed more than the body needs.
Practical Tips to Eat Mindfully
Mindful eating, like any other habit, takes time to develop. Here are some expert tips for you to implement that can encourage your children to focus on the food and enjoy the fare to derive optimum benefits out of the nutrients consumed.
Turn mealtimes into family times. An ancient saying goes like this: “Family that eats together, stays together”. When you sit down at the dinner table with your family, it is unlikely that anyone would be inclined towards emotional eating. Moreover, banish distractions like the screen at mealtimes, to share a good laugh over a good plate of food.
Pass on Grandma’s wisdom of chewing food slowly. Chewing slowly will not just aid in digestion but also release all the flavours in the mouthful, making them appreciate what they are eating.
Don’t push meal times till the kids feel like eating a horse. This will result in bigger mouthfuls, larger portion sizes and gobbling up of food. Instead, serve meals when they have an appetite.
Take them shopping and allow them to make the selections. Teach them how to read nutrition levels in packages so they can understand what food is for daily consumption and which are for the “once-in-a-blue-moon” kind of treat.
Involve them in meal planning and the cooking process. Let them prepare dishes that they can manage with a little supervision. Involvement in food prep will result in pride and enjoyment of the dishes they lay on the table for the family.
Encourage them to serve themselves and others too. With added responsibility, their interest in food will develop further. Explain to them the importance of starting with smaller portions and taking small bites to manage the food on the plate and in the mouth better.
Gift them the hobby of gardening. Space permitting, help them grow a small kitchen garden or at least some herbs. The pleasure of growing something from scratch will seep into eating as well, making them appreciate the efforts of producing food, not to mention teaching them important lessons on sustainable living.
At Samsidh Group of Schools, we don’t just preach about mindful eating but firmly believe that every grain of food makes a difference. We urge you to join hands with us in this endeavour to inculcate a healthy and sustainable attitude towards food and nutrition in our children.