By: Ariel Jordan
You may hear ‘mindfulness’ being thrown around in the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day. For the purposes of this blog, we will think of mindfulness in its simplest form – the ability to be fully present in the time and space you are in. Mindful eating is not a diet, it’s about being present in the moment, focusing on what you’re eating, and noticing what is happening in your body and how that makes you feel.
At its core, mindful eating involves:
- Slowing down the pace at which you eat – this may take the form of breaks during bites or slowing down chewing
- Being aware of how your body tells you it’s hungry and full
- Learning to distinguish hunger cues and triggers of eating – commonly associated with distraction, emotions, and/ or the environment
- Activating all of your senses (smell, taste, sight, touch, sound) when consuming food to identify foods that are pleasing & nourishing
- Learning to acknowledge & manage guilt and anxiety related to food
- Being attentive to how food impacts mood, figure, emotions, etc.
Mindful eating in practice
Approach this exercise with an open mind and a gentle curiosity, mindfulness is not always as “easy” as we would hope, but the journey is well worth it! Give your full attention to the whole experience, from observing the appearance and presentation of food to eating it carefully to fully experience its various flavors.
Here’s how to try the exercise. You can use a raisin, a piece of chocolate, or even an entire meal as your object for mindful eating.
- Start by looking at what you are planning to eat. What do you notice visually?
- Now, smell the food carefully. What do you notice?
- If applicable, do you notice any sounds? If you’re eating something like a raisin, try holding it close to your ear as you squeeze it gently. Or if you’re unwrapping a chocolate, listen to the crinkles of the wrapper as you unfold it.
- What do you feel with your fingers? Is the food warm or cold? Is it smooth, rough, or sticky?
- Now, put the piece of food on your tongue, but don’t chew on it yet. Just leave it on your tongue and notice how it feels in your mouth. Do you taste anything yet? What activity do you notice in your mouth?
- Start chewing it, very slowly, just one bite at a time. Notice how the tastes change as you chew.
- Try to notice when you swallow, and see how far you can feel the food into your body.
There is no one way to explore mindful eating, what may work for me, may not work for you. Mindful eating also does not require an ‘exercise’ to be engaged with. Mindful eating creates an opportunity to improve or positively impact your relationship with food as well as other areas in life. Mindful eating can be experienced by the act of eating, tuning into other senses, or even journaling! Explore what works for you, there is no “right” or “wrong” or “good” or “bad” way to practice, allow yourself the space and grace to explore – remember the goal is to be present.