Our society has caused us to think faster is better. We all want instant gratification from shipments from Amazon or the drive-thru line at Chick-fil-A, but what about when it comes to eating food? Is faster better? Not necessarily. As the new year starts, we can incorporate mindful eating into our daily routines to gain awareness of our eating experiences. Why rush through life? Let’s begin to enjoy our food in 2022!
What Is Mindful Eating?
Mindfulness is paying attention in a certain way, on purpose and in the present moment. Mindfulness has been a popular term recently and can improve an individual’s chronic pain, disease, depression, sleeping problems and anxiety. It has been explored in eating to help people focus on the mind and body connection. Mindful eating encourages eating when you’re hungry and what tastes good. Over time, it can decrease an over-focus on food.
There are multiple benefits when it comes to mindful eating, including:
- Enjoying your food
- Slowing down digestion
- Listening to hunger cues
Simple Mindful Eating Exercises
First, let’s start with a practice activity.
- Get a raisin or something small to eat and set it down in front of you. Don’t eat it yet.
- Imagine you don’t know what a raisin is, so with no knowledge or experience, take a few moments to sit and take deep breaths.
- Hold the raisin in your hand.
- Feel how heavy the raisin is.
- Investigate the outside of the raisin — the texture, shape, smell and feel of it.
- Take a moment to think about how you feel about the raisin.
- Place the raisin between your lips and hold it there. What do you notice your body does?
- Let it roll into your mouth. Without chewing, move it around your mouth. What do you notice?
- Bite down, just once. How do you feel?
- Chew the raisin until it’s liquefied in your mouth before swallowing.
After you swallow, take a few moments to reflect on the exercise.
The raisin exercise allows participants to be intentional with each moment of eating. The focus on the five senses makes you stay in the present moment and not rush through eating the items on your plate.
Mindful eating is essential to allow your body to listen to your hunger cues and can help reduce overeating. Once you’re in tune with your body and mind connection while eating, you can better understand your body’s hunger signals to know if you’re still hungry or satisfied.
Next time you sit down to eat something, try this:
- Notice the taste of the food in the first bite.
- Then take another bite. How does the taste change as you continue to chew? Is your enjoyment going up or down? At what point does the flavor begin to decrease?
- Continue to eat and notice how the flavor changes.
- Place your fork down between bites.
- Remove distractions from your eating areas, such as cell phones or TVs.
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Willard C, Rossy L, Miranda G, et al. 6 ways to practice Mindful Eating. Mindful. https://www.mindful.org/6-ways-practice-mindful-eating/. Published October 25, 2021. Accessed January 12, 2022.
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