How to practice the art of mindful eating
How often do you eat your breakfast on the go, and don’t really (I mean realllllllly) taste and appreciate the food you’re eating? Or while watching a movie, do you find yourself demolishing a bucket of popcorn or a block of chocolate without taking your eyes off the screen, automatically reaching for more, more, more regardless of whether you actually feel like it or not?
Now before you go cringing with guilt, this is not about making you a self-denying saint, it’s about helping you get more enjoyment and satisfaction out of one of the greatest pleasures in life – food!
Between work, kids, cleaning and juggling ALL those errands, it’s no wonder so many of us struggle to enjoy truly satisfying meals.
But it’s important to be present and mindful while we eat, because not being may in fact, have a bigger impact on our health than we realise.
‘Mindful eating’ is a term that most of us have heard of these days. It’s an eating practice that can help us build a positive relationship with food and you may learn a thing or two about your body as you go.
Mindful eating can help you maintain a healthy weight and achieve a more nutritious diet.
But what does mindful eating actually involve? How are you actually supposed to practice such a thing?
The concept itself is quite simple and makes a lot of sense when you take a step back and look at the bigger picture. It is the practice of being present and really experiencing the food we eat. Sounds pretty straight-forward, right? Except, for most people, life can get in the way and opportunities to be present around food are often lost. It takes practice to become familiar with the art of mindful eating.
It involves having an awareness of food through ALL your senses, tuning into how different foods make you feel and being aware of how it feels to be hungry and full.
The more you practice, the more you’ll continue to learn. It could even help you to become more mindful in other areas of your life! But first, some serious homework.
Try out this chocolate eating practice to start exercising your mindfulness muscle today:
(yes, you can practice mindfulness with chocolate, so what are you waiting for)?!
Grab a small piece of chocolate (ideally purchased with this exercise in mind) and before doing anything else, without overthinking, simply observe how it looks. What does the texture look like? What colour is it?
Using your touch sense, take time to feel the chocolate in your fingers and notice how it feels. Is it soft? Cold? Sticky?
Next, take a moment to appreciate the smell of the chocolate. Notice its sweetness.
Now for the best part – after all this temptation, you can begin to eat. Take small bites and most importantly, eat slowly. Take your time to chew and taste each bite of chocolate in your mouth for at least 15 seconds per bite (it is not necessary to eat this slowly every time you eat outside this exercise, however, it does help while practicing). Experience every flavour and sensation in your mouth. Notice the texture, how your tongue feels against the chocolate, the taste, the aftertaste, everything!
Continue to take small bites of the chocolate and repeat Step 4 with each bite.
This is a handy exercise to learn the basics of eating mindfully. And look, it’s not possible to eat mindfully 100% of the time – we’re only human after all. But practicing this simple exercise can help us get more nourishment and pleasure out of eating and can leave us more in touch with recognising when we’re truly hungry/full/satisfied. Seeing as food is so often a communal activity, try practicing this with your family so you can have more fun with it and hold yourselves to the steps of the exercise.