In my practice, I explain mindful eating to my clients as eating with the intention of paying attention. It’s a practice that stems from mindfulness meditation, and applies it’s lessons to food and eating. While it might sound a little “woo,” mindful eating is simply slowing down and paying attention to your food and how you feel while eating it.
Mindful eating has many benefits. By tuning into fullness levels, it’s easier to eat the right amount of food for you. It reduces overeating and binge eating, improves overall diet quality, and aids digestion. Just as important, savoring your food lets you enjoy it more!
Not sure where to start? Here’s five easy exercises you can practice to become a more mindful eater:
Put down your fork between each bite
It’s impossible to eat a meal mindfully if your hand is in a constant plate to mouth motion. Slow down by putting your fork down between each bite. It will feel awkward at first, but with practice, feels natural.
“Wine taste” your food
When wine tasting, one of the things they have you do is try to identify as many different flavors in the wine as possible. Then you say something about berries and floral notes, and smile and nod when the sommelier starts talking about notes of leather. Next time you eat, try to “wine taste” your food, putting an adjective to all the different layers of flavor in the dish. For example, if you were eating Luvo’s Orange Mango Chicken, you might notice the floral notes of the jasmine rice, the bit of spice from ginger, the sweet-tart taste and jammy texture of the mangos, or the earthiness of the edamame.
We’ve all had the experience of opening up a bag of chips in front of the TV, only to look down and realize it’s all gone and we’ve barely tasted a bite. When we’re drivng in the car or engrossed in an episode of Game of Thrones, it’s impossible to pay attention to our food, or notice that point when we’ve had enough to eat. When possible, try to eat on a plate, at a table, while sitting on a chair, to make sure you’re free of distractions.
Take a mental picture
Eating mindfully involves tuning into all of our senses, including sight. Take a mental picture of what your food looks like before eating. Try to pick up as many details as possible, so if you had to describe your meal to an artist, they’d be able to create a detailed still life of your dinner.
Before eating, take a moment to say a blessing or express gratitude for your food. When you appreciate the food in front of you and recognize there’s many people for which a nutritious and tasty meal is a luxury, you’re more likely to slow down and eat your food with intention.
Do you practice mindful eating? Share your experience below!
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