Mindful Eating is one of the most underrated lifestyle habits. Learning to practise it can be life-changing. Mindful eating is focussing your attention on the experience of eating your food and not doing anything else. It is also eating with intention, and not the intention of only eating specific groups of food or deliberately restricting food.
A journal is the perfect partner to mindful eating because it helps you tune into your feelings around hunger, food and life in general. Each day, choose one meal to eat mindfully. You’ll find some guidelines for how to do below.
Start using a journal right away. Notice if your thoughts, feelings and experiences change over time. Have some fun with this! It is an exercise in which you get to be curious as you play detective in your life.
How to Eat Mindfully
Before you eat, take a few moments to tune into your environment and also with your desire to eat.
Take a few deep breaths and relax your shoulders or anywhere there is tension. If there’s guilt, let it go. Try not to judge yourself. Everything is exactly the way it should be right now. Remember, you are learning and practicsng new things.
3.TURN OFF DISTRACTIONS
Choose a quiet time to eat based on what suits you best. It doesn’t matter which meal you choose but you need to be alone. Put your phone on silent and don’t have it in the same room so you’re not tempted by visual cues
4.SET A TIMER
Give yourself a certain amount of time to eat your meal. Start by blocking out 20 minutes to do nothing else but focus on eating your meal.
5.LOOK AT YOUR MEAL
Notice colours, shape, moisture and other physical properties. Look without judgement – no food is inherently good or bad. If you notice any judgement, gently bring your mind back to the food’s properties.
Notice the aroma for a while. Really take it in.
7.TAKE YOUR FIRST BITE
Close your eyes and take your first bite. Notice the taste, texture and mouth feel. Where in your mouth do you notice the flavour? Chew until thoroughly soft and you can swallow.
8.CONTINUE TO EAT
Open your eyes after the first bite but continue to eat mindfully.
How to Eat Mindfully
After a few bites, you may notice that your mind starts to wander. Just notice your mind tends to do it. There’s nothing wrong. Remember you committed to practising mindful eating today. Bring your thoughts back to your plate and the experience of eating. Repeat as necessary.
You may notice you don’t want to finish a meal, and that’s OK. Choose to stop when your food is gone or you no longer want any more.
Slowing down and focussing is the goal, not on eating less per se. Your stomach takes a while to feel full. It’s more valuable to slow down and enjoy your meal rather than to second guess how your stomach will feel in the future. Over time, mindful eating may naturally lead to eating less because you will experience the meal more fully and it will, therefore, be more satisfying.
The Raisin Meditation
This mindfulness practice allows you to be more present in life, reduce stress and enjoy everyday pleasures.
Jon Kabat-Zinn created this Mindful Eating Exercise (or Raisin Meditation) to help his clients practise mindful eating and also to reduce stress. In his workshops, students ate one single raisin in the following stages. You could also do this with any dried fruit or small nuts.
Take a raisin and place it in your hand – either in your palm or hold it between thumb and forefinger. Examine it as though it were an exotic thing you’ve never seen before.
Really see the raisin. Gaze upon it in awe and wonder, and explore every wrinkle and hollow. Notice, how does it look, how does it fit in your hand?
Now touch it. Roll it over in your fingers to explore every part. How do the ridges feel on the pads of your fingers?
Hold the raisin to your nose and inhale. Notice its aroma. Does the smell arouse your senses? Consider, does anything start to happen in your mouth or stomach?
Place the raisin on your tongue and hold it there. Examine the raisin with your mouth, without chewing. How does the raisin feel? Explore it with your tongue. What sensations do you have?
Place the raisin between your teeth and bite. Notice your teeth moving and breaking the surface of the raisin. When you bite, notice the texture. Notice what happens in your mouth. Note the flavours releasing. Continue to chew and, without swallowing, get present to the sensation and texture in your mouth. Does it change the more you chew?
Start to detect your intention to swallow the raisin before you actually swallow it. Now you can swallow.
What happens? Can you still feel the residue? Is there a lingering taste?