Mindful 04 :: Eat Mindfully

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I love to eat. Don't you? I think we all do. It's so fun...and yummy.

Ever since I've been practicing mindfulness, it's amazing how much more I've enjoyed my meals. I thought I enjoyed them before, but now they are more calm, filling, and delicious than ever before.

Here are some tips for developing your mindful eating practice. Not only will you enjoy your meals better, but you might just improve your health a lil' bit! 

Eating Mindfully

1. Check in

How hungry are you, from 1-10? It's smart to get in a habit of noticing your hunger level before you dive in to a meal.  The goal of the meal is to make you feel satisfied and to give your taste buds a treat. You'll be better able to do this if you think for a moment before you begin.

2. Notice everything

What does your food look like? Are you excited to eat it? Does it smell good? Notice as much as you can about your food, and this moment to be grateful for the yumminess you're about to behold. 

3. Chew too many times

I think the number of times we're supposed to chew is what, 25? I'm not sure about that, I haven't counted lately. But it's definitely a mindful process to slow it down, and chew. Your brain will register the food more, and appreciate it more. Plus you'll be less likely to choke and cough all over your friends when you start laughing mid-bite.

4. Use chopsticks

Not only will this make you eat more mindfully, but you'll also really impress people the next time you go out for garlic noodles. But really, trying this will slow you down a bit. I know, we don't have time. I'm a naturally fast eater, so I'm with you. But as they say, it takes the brain 20 minutes to register that it's full, so by eating nice and slow we give it time to catch up with your stomach.

5. Or try being a lefty

Just another way to make your eating more difficult and slow, and therefore more conscious! By having to purposefully work through each bite, you'll be even more ready and aware of what you're doing.

6. Put your fork/sandwich/burrito down

In between bites, take a break. This is essentially the same tip as #3 and #4 - to slow it down. I have trouble with burritos and messy/delicious sandwiches that are falling apart. It seems like holding them the whole time is the right way to go. But I promise, the amazingness will last longer and taste better if you slow it down a bit. 

7. Close your eyes

If you're in a position where this isn't overly awkward, try to shut your eyes for part of the meal. Without the distraction of vision, you can focus solely on the experience of eating.  Focus on the flavors, smells and textures in your mouth. This will help you both appreciate your food and eat more slowly.

8. Taste the rainbow

What's inside your dish? Can you try to taste each of the ingredients? I think I used to just mow a salad, hoping to breeze over the flavors I didn't think I liked (cucumbers and raw mushrooms, for example). But once I stopped to check out each of those individual flavors I realized...I kind of like cucumbers and mushrooms after all. It's also fun and a good skill to develop if you're interested in becoming a better cook - at a restaurant, if you can taste the ingredients, you can mimic the recipe at home :). 

9. Serve yourself a plate, sit at the table

Try to formalize your eating experience a bit so that you can fully appreciate and acknowledge what, and how much you're about to eat. It makes it feel more special, and you're definitely more likely to remember the "meal" (even if it's just a snack).

10. Eat in Silence

Any sensation that you experience outside of taste and smell while you’re eating can distract you and make mindful eating more difficult. It's nice to be quiet sometimes isn't it?

Want to hear more? I like this article about the "BASICS" of mindful eating

And click here for a great mindful eating exercise - a raisin has never tasted so delicious!

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