illustration by Ji Young Lee
In episode 1, Alex gives us a ton of tips to eat mindfully, on our own and as a family. You can check her info @http://www.alexssiyoga.com/
Hello everyone, and welcome to what gets you cooking the podcast giving you a new way to look at it the way we cook it and share it. This is Virginie you your host. And today my guest is Alexandra Rossi, who’s going to give us her perspective on mindful eating for the family on our very first episode.
When we first met seven years ago, it was at a yoga studio in San Francisco, where I had recently moved and I didn’t know much about mindfulness.
Alexandra has studied mindfulness for over a decade following Buddhist monk TICH NATH HANH to France, Canada and the USA. She is part of the Mindful Schools Teacher Graduate and a student of JON KABAT-ZINN and MBSR.
Living Mindfully is supporting her growth as a teacher, woman, parent and wife.
- Hello, and welcome to the show. Alex, thank you so much for being our first guest here.
- Hello, Virginie. Nice to be with you today.
- Can you tell us a little bit about how you started to get interested into mindful eating?
- I went to a retreat for a day long in MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) course, where on the last day, you have an opportunity to eat lunch all together in a mindful way. That’s how I started it. It was a 30 minute silent meditation with a group of people that have never done it. And I thought it was really interesting. So I tried it at home. In the morning, I stopped looking at my computer or my phone, and I started really taking the time every morning to eat mindfully. That’s how I started.
- That’s great. So what did you immediately realize? What did it bring you?
- It brought me peace. I realized that I could actually use the time of my meal to relax and to be present, instead of rushing around like for the rest of my day, it became a pause in my day. A conscious posing.
- I find it really interesting. And I’m curious about how it works with being a family eating all together and sharing a meal.
- So I have to transpose a little bit, because it’s much easier to do it on your own. I’ll say for the families listening to this podcast who are interested in mindful eating with their children, I would say first start alone. And do it a few days a week, where you’re eating in silence, and without looking at your phone, and maybe it’s 10 minute, maybe it’s your snacks, maybe it’s you just your cookie at 4pm. And once you have that ball going, as an adult you’ll feel the sensation, you will know the peacefulness you’re looking for. And then try it with your family. How to proceed is maybe by putting a timer and deciding not to talk for five minutes. Observe the food or guide your children into observing the food that they’re eating, smelling. Looking at the way it’s displayed in the plate. You can use a lot of little tricks like this with children. For example, invite them to be more mindful about what they eat, how they eat and what it looks like and feels like in their mouths.
- So it can be a step by step process.
- Yes, I think it has to be a step by step. You cannot ask children to just be silent during a full meal and expect something positive out of it. Mealtime is also a sharing time for the family. So making it a playful adventure of the taste would be great.
- That’s great tips. Now, I wanted to ask you what are the benefits that you think mindful eating can bring to everyone.
- I think there are some studies around the subject of obesity and mindful eating, and they’ve been pretty positive. If you pay attention to your eating, if you slow down when you eat, you may realize that you are full when you are. So there’s a lot less feeding just to feed but a lot more: “Oh, I think I’m full, I may stop.” It is an awareness of what is really going on in the body and noticing the signals. I am done. So that’s one of the positive effect. Another one I notice on myself is that it helps me calm down and slow down my day. It’s giving me a little vacation in the middle of the day.
- So it’s beneficial not only for your mind birth for your body too.
- And did that experience of eating mindfully change the way you look at food?
- Oh, yes! Totally!
- In what way?
- When I started to pay attention to what I was putting into my mouth, I realized, Oh, well, why am I having sugar so much? Why am I having a second helping of so they are being offline for what’s going on here? Kind of notice that sometimes I was eating emotionally. Sometimes I was just doing it out of habit. I’m used to do that. So I’m going to do it. So it really helped me know myself better. And also know how much some foods were impacting me like sugary food, were definitely making me more drowsy for the rest of the day.
- And did it change your inspiration? When you think about the title of our show? What gets you cooking? What’s your inspiration now when you’re cooking?
- My inspiration when I’m cooking is to bring healthy foods that are going to nurture my body and my soul in some way. Say what food is good for my muscle? What’s good for my skin? And what food helps me feel good. So it’s kind of an awareness of all those.
- So would you like to share what’s your current favorite food or favorite tool?
- My current favorite food is quinoa, in every ways. So I tried it cooked and warm, in soups. I really like it.
- And I hear that it’s also really full of good nutrients.
- Yes, it’s rich in protein, which is kind of interesting, since it’s in the grins family.
- We’ve talked about what you like, and how you eat when you eat lunch on your own. But I’m curious to know, how do you usually share your food, eating mindfully or maybe less mindfully? What were How is that part of your eating habits or family food sharing, if you would say.
- It really depend on who is at the table with me. You know, if I’m with a bunch of children and we’re doing mindful eating, I will say “okay, let’s slow down and observe and maybe listen when we chew, what’s the sounds coming up, maybe taste this little bean and then try this cauliflower and see the difference in your mouth? Then I also try to chew as long as I can. So maybe when you take a bite how many times can you chew on that bite? 15 times maybe? I also recommend to drink slowly.
- Is that something you notice a lot with children? Do they tend to want to put everything in their mouth at once?
- Also little kids like to talk and all that. So while they talk, they don’t really pay attention to the food. They just gobble gobble gobble. In that moment the intention is to direct all the attention on to the food you have in front of you. So you could ask children to eat with their left hand, if they’re right ended. With their right hand, if they’re left handed. You can ask them to drop the fork after every bite. Everything to slow down the process and realize “Oh, my intention is actually to pay attention to what I’m doing right now.” The main thing is to bring mindfulness into an activity that’s in the daily life, and eating is such a great activity. Because you do it every day.
- Yes, very true.
- That is one of the easiest way to introduce mindfulness in a family. Because you eat and that’s not going to change.
- Yes, and it did does impact your life and how you feel a lot. So it’s good to come to that realization earlier than later.
- And I know that’s the children for good stuff in life, you know, awareness of what they do. How does it feel? And if it’s pleasant, basically, it’s like, oh, it’s a pleasant experience to pay attention.
- Yes, absolutely. To wrap up today, I just have one final question for you. And this is about what would you share? Like, what’s your best tip or tip of the month? For people who are listening to us?
- So the tip of the month is Try it. Try it. Try it. Try five minutes. Tomorrow morning at your breakfast tomorrow for lunch. Try to set a timer and not look at your phone and savor your food. Look at it, smell it. Eat it slowly. And see how we feel after that.
- Well, I’m definitely going to try it. I’m intrigued and I have to say that as much as I love food, I don’t always really slow down enough when I eat. Thank you very much, Alex, for being our first guest on the podcast!
- Thank you for having me.