Food, glorious food! Upon searching my iphoto archive for the photo above, I realized just how many pictures I have taken of food in the past few years. Indeed, eating food is one of my favorite activities and since this blog is dedicated to bringing mindfulness to all the activities of living, a post about mindful eating is well past due.
Thanks to the promulgation of information about mindfulness in the media lately, mindful eating is likely not a new concept for you. And that’s wonderful because it is a very accessible way to practice being mindful- in fact, it is something that you can do each meal, if even for a few moments. Here’s a few suggestions to try during your next encounter with food:
-Before eating, make sure that you’re sitting down and that you’re able to attend fully to the food you’re eating (turn off the tv and put down your smart phone). If your kids are old enough, they can participate, too.
-Before taking your first bite, take some time to investigate the meal with your other senses. What does it smell like? What does it sound like? Try approaching this food as if you’ve never encountered it before. Try it with your eyes closed if you don’t mind feeling a little silly.
-Notice what is happening in your mouth. Do you feel the moment when you start to salivate in preparation for eating? (My mouth starting salivating simply by looking at the picture above)
-Check in with your appetite. How hungry are you? If 10 is ravenous and 1 is uncomfortably stuffed, where are you currently on the scale?
-Take your first bite. How does it feel in your mouth? What parts of your tongue are most activated by the flavor? Notice the impulse to swallow the food- see if you can catch the moment when your mind sends your body the signal.
-As you eat, continually check in with your body and your sense of satiety. The more often you do this, the more familiar you will become with how much food your body wants and when/where it sends signals of fullness. Ideally, you want to try to stop eating around a 3 or 4 on the scale.
Eating mindfully can be a revolutionary experience, awakening you to sensations in your body that are otherwise too subtle to be experienced. You can learn to differentiate between hunger and emotional cravings which allows you to more effectively respond to what it is your body needs in a particular moment, rather than just engulfing half a jar of Nutella (hey, we’ve all been there) without thinking. But most importantly, eating mindfully can improve the experience of eating and since eating is something we do at least three times a day, every day, it has the potential to make each day a bit more intentional and enjoyable.