You’ve likely heard a lot about eating mindfully, but maybe you’re short on tangible tips for actually doing it. If so, you’re in luck with today’s guest post from Heather Sears, founder of Kinsho, the go-to bento box brand for creating enlightened eats, and the four-time award-winning author of Mind to Mouth: A Busy Chick’s Guide to Mindful Mealtime Moments. She lives in Boston with her family where she was named a 2018 Trailblazer, and she’s sharing her thoughts on how using a bento box can make a real difference in how you eat your meals.
Mindful eating may feel trendy, but researchers are finding more and more evidence that mindfulness around food can improve health and increase mealtime enjoying. Using a bento box with divided compartments is one simple, highly effective way to increase your mealtime mindfulness.
Eating with a bento box helps you:
- Become present: Mindful eating includes bringing our attention to now-here (as opposed to it being no-where). The visual stimuli of a beautifully laid out bento box helps us get interested in the meal in front of us to pay attention to each bite, rather than zone out or look for distraction.
- Use all your senses: Tuning into the colors, crunch, texture, aroma and temperature of food helps us connect more deeply with the nourishment entering our body. Bento boxes intrinsically display food in a stimulating way. This supports discovery and interest in paying attention to the sensory details of each item. Our sense-based curiosity keeps our mind tethered to our mealtime experience, rather than wandering to an easy diversion.
- Savor: Thorough chewing and pausing between bites helps us slow down, enjoy, and digest our meal. Bento compartment dividers can act as little stop signs to support this, rather than zooming through.
- Tune into hunger and fullness cues: Bento boxes with multiple compartments have built-in portion management and prompt eating a variety of foods. Slowing down to enjoy smaller portions of a balanced array of healthy items can increase satiety. We can actually begin to notice our hunger diminish as we digest.
- Awaken appreciation: Opening a bento box is like a receiving a present! The recipient can feel (and taste!) the love behind the beautiful meal. Over time this appreciation for the maker, even if it is yourself, can begin to extend to the many hands that go into providing every meal.
An easy way to get started with mindful eating is with what I call an ABC check-in (from my book Mind to Mouth). Sit with your bento box and practice the following:
- Awareness — bring it to the present moment. Pay attention to how your body feels sitting in the chair. Put your mind in your belly and notice your hunger. Focus on the visual feast of the bento meal in front of you.
- Breathe — take two full inhales and complete exhales. This calms your mind and nervous system.
- Curiosity — incorporate it into each bite. Explore the aroma and evolving flavor, texture, and temperature as you chew. Continue savoring each of the different foods in your bento box. Apply as much mindful attention to the last bite as the first.
Bring what you experienced during this bento meal to your next one. You will find new awareness and preferences emerge as you connect more deeply with your food, and yourself. –Heather Sears