Anything you do – from washing dishes, to walking, to talking, to eating – can be a mindfulness practice.
To turn a mundane action into a mindfulness practice, all you must do is stay in the present moment. That means being attentive to the five senses as you experience something, moment by moment. When the mind wanders off – as it always does – just bring it back to the present again, as many times as you need to.
To practice mindful eating, engage in the following steps. It is okay to go out of order.
- Become aware of body sensations. Before you even start eating… how hungry are you? Is your stomach growling? Is your mouth watering? What other sensations in your stomach, chest, throat or mouth do you notice?
- Observe the smells. See how many different smells you can notice before you begin eating.
- Notice how the food looks. This includes colors, textures, light and shadow. Maybe even notice the dishes you are eating off of.
- Slow down. As you chew, move your jaw and tongue at half speed. Eat so slowly that it feels unnatural or uncomfortable.
- Savor the flavors. Become aware of the first flavor you notice when the food goes into your mouth (salty / sweet / savory / umami / etc.). Notice how the flavors change as you chew.
- Take note of textures. Is the food soft, crisp, crunchy, sticky? Does it melt in your mouth? How does the texture change as you keep chewing?
- Return to body sensations. Is your jaw tired from chewing? Can you notice your stomach getting full?
Why practice mindful eating?
- Eating is one of the greatest sensual pleasures in life. The more mindfully you do it, the more pleasure you are able to experience. You may actually find that food tastes better when eaten mindfully.
- Mindful eating is great for folks who have difficulties with digestion. Eating more slowly and chewing more thoroughly can help the body digest food more easily.
- Mindful eating can also help with portion control and weight loss. When you eat slowly, you realize sooner when we are full, as opposed to eating quickly, when you can miss the subtle body sensations that clue you in.
- For people trying to cultivate a regular mindfulness practice, mindful eating is a really easy way to work mindfulness practice into a busy schedule.
Have a Mindful Monday.