Did you know that when it comes to eating, how is nearly as important as what? Mindful eating means paying attention to the way food affects your senses (sight, taste, smell, texture), how it makes you feel physically and emotionally and any thoughts that arise. It’s all about being aware in the present moment as you’re eating, without distractions.
Eating mindfully can help you get clear about your food choices and prevent “auto-pilot” munching. (For example, are you eating out of genuine hunger, because the clock says it’s time for lunch or because you’re feeling stressed out?) This can lead to healthier eating behaviors, like becoming more aware of portion size, pinpointing your “triggers” and recognizing what it means to feel genuinely hungry and full. It can also give you more enjoyment and satisfaction from food by creating opportunities to savor every bite and appreciate the nourishment you’re giving your body.
A key component of mindful eating is practicing a nonjudgmental awareness of your eating patterns. Embrace the idea that there’s no right or wrong way (or thing) to eat, just varying degrees of awareness surrounding the experience of food. So, even if your answer to “why am I eating?” is “because I’m bored, stressed or lonely,” the goal is not to beat yourself up, but to simply become more cognizant of your “why” so you can understand your own behaviors.
Start with a raisin, grape, strawberry, piece of cheese or chocolate.
First hold the food in your hand and observe its appearance and texture. Is there an aroma? What do you notice about the shape or color? What kind of changes do you notice in your body as you observe this food? Do you notice an impulse to immediately put the food in your mouth? Do any thoughts or emotions arise?
Place a small amount of the food in your mouth, but do not chew. After 30-60 seconds, start chewing. Take note of the taste, effects on your mouth or other parts of your body and how it makes you feel emotionally.
After you’ve finished eating, ask yourself these questions: