Mindfulness is something we have been hearing a lot about recently. Essentially mindfulness is taking the time to be aware of your surroundings, being present at any given moment and noticing how you are feeling in response to situations. The focus is to be present in the moment rather than worrying about what has already happened or may happen in the future.

Mindfulness has an important role to play when it comes to food as well.

Mindful eating is about prioritising yourself and giving yourself time to be able to eat comfortably.

We are often distracted while eating by continuing to work or catching up on the latest news or social media during lunch or sitting down finally to relax in front of your favourite programme with dinner. What these distractions mean is that we aren’t always aware of the food and how our body is responding to it.

I like to compare the experience of eating at your favourite restaurant with how you may eat at home. At the restaurant; you’ve chosen the meal that sounds most appealing, you are anticipating what that might taste like and when the meal arrives you are more likely to savour the first few mouthfuls as you explore what the meal tastes and feels like. It is usually an enjoyable experience, unless the meal hasn’t lived up to your expectations.

Now compare that experience with what you may do at home; you’ve spent time preparing dinner or you’ve chosen to pick up something on the way home, you flick on the tv, sink into the couch and the food is gone before you even know it and the only lasting memory is how much effort it was to prepare and the mess waiting for you in the kitchen. Not a lot of satisfaction in between.

My recommendation: bring a bit of the restaurant experience into your everyday meals.

Take a few minutes at the start of each meal, when possible, to be mindful. Notice the aroma, the texture, notice the crunch of the food or the way it melts away, notice the flavour. Is there any difference between the first and subsequent bites?

How is your body responding to the food? This one may take some time to figure out. We are so used to following prescription diets that we have forgotten how to check in with our bodies to gauge our level of enjoyment.

When we are mindful while eating and making food choices, we are more likely to eat when we are hungry and stop when we are full. Hunger and fullness are not the only reasons we eat and that’s ok too but the more aware we are of our body the better able we are to respond to its needs at any given moment.

Find the foods you enjoy and have a mindful moment to truly experience the satisfaction that food can provide.

Andrea Palmer is the Dietitian for Habit Wellington.