Savour every mouthful and get maximum satisfaction and maximum nutrition from every bite. Sound good? Here’s how mindful eating can change your relationship with food forever.
What’s mindful eating?
Maybe you’ve heard of mindfulness. Well, mindful eating is when we’re fully present in the moment while we’re eating, paying deliberate attention to the complete experience, without judgement.
What are the benefits?
Here’s just a few reasons you might want to give mindful eating a go:
- Helps us appreciate food more
- Help us build a better relationship with food
- Transforms eating into a more enjoyable and pleasurable experience
- Aids digestion
- Helps regulate our appetite
Want to try mindful eating?
Mindful eating looks different for everyone and our experience of mindful eating will vary. Don’t put any pressure on yourself straight away (or ever!), go into it with a curious and open mind and see how you find it.
The mindfulness expert, Jon Kabat-Zinn developed an activity where we slow down and take about 5 minutes to eat a raisin. Yes, that’s right, 5 minutes for ONE raisin. It’s a great way to explore mindful eating. If you don’t like raisins pick another mouthful of food that won’t dissolve too quickly, like a chunk of cheese or piece of banana.
Start by sitting with the raisin in front of you. Imagine it’s the first time you’ve seen a raisin. Look at it then pick it up and feel how heavy it is in your hand. Really look at it carefully, noticing any bumps or ridges, the colours, shape and textures. Sniff it and see if it has a scent. Roll it around, listening to see if you can hear it as you move it between your fingers. How does it feel? Soft, squishy, lumpy? Pop it between your lips and hold it there for a minute. Open your lips to let it drop into your mouth but before you chew down notice any tastes or changes. Bite down once. What happens? Now you can chew it, chewing until it’s completely liquid before you swallow. Close your eyes and think about the experience for a moment.
You just ate your first food mindfully! How did it make you feel? You don’t need to take this long over every bite, although you can if you like. Here’s some ways to work mindful eating into your daily life:
- Remove distractions – Lots of us are in the habit of looking at some sort of screen whilst we eat which can prevent us being fully present. With mindful eating, we want to set aside time purely for eating. Try eating at the table, away from screens. If you’re eating with someone else, share the experience and talk about the textures and flavours of the meal you’re sharing.
- Slow down – Plan your day so that you have the time to sit and enjoy your meal. Whilst you’re eating, chew your food properly and notice how the food tastes and how your body and mind responds. Eating slowly also gives us more time to listen to our body and recognise our fullness signals.
- Change your language around food – A big part of mindful eating is being non-judgemental about your eating experience. Avoid putting food into categories of “good” and “bad”. Every food has something to offer, and all foods can have a place in a balanced diet that we enjoy and that nourishes us.
- Tune into your body – Listening to and acting on the signals our bodies send us around hunger and fullness can help us practice mindful eating.
Remember, mindful eating isn’t an exam. You can’t pass or fail. If it sounds like something you’re interested in trying, go in with a curious mind and see how you find it!