Have you ever eaten a meal and then realized you never tasted it? If you nuked it in a microwave from a cardboard box, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. However, if it’s a real meal that you or someone else has prepared, you might be missing out on something good!
Eating mindfully means that you give yourself the opportunity to truly taste food and become satiated physically, emotionally and psychologically.
One reason many of us have difficulty with mindful eating is because of our anxiety, which can translate into inhaling food as opposed to truly tasting it.
What follows are 10 simple steps for mindful eating. Some of what appears below may seem obvious while other points will cause you to pause and reflect. Read them all in order to fully absorb their deeper meaning.
1. Look at your food
Notice how it appears on your plate. Be aware of the colors you see, the textures and shapes. Under this point, you are intentionally helping yourself to slow down the eating process.
2. Smell the aroma
Place a small portion of food on your fork or spoon. Lift it close to your nose and take in the smell.
3. Put the food on the tip of your tongue and lips
The goal under this point is to become aware of the food’s texture. Allow yourself to feel the food, including ridges and bumps.
4. Put the food in your mouth but don’t bite right away
Just let the food sit there for a quick second. Like the previous point, the idea is to create awareness around texture.
5. Chew slowly and deliberately
Begin to chew the food and create awareness around how each bite tastes. Ask yourself: What am I aware of as I am eating?
6. Swallow and fee
When you are done chewing, become aware of how the food feels as it slides down your throat. What sensations are you aware of?
7. Drink water
While you may prefer a certain type of beverage with your meal, try drinking water instead. The reason is that water generally doesn’t interfere with food’s taste, while sodas and wines often do.
8. Allow negative thoughts to pass
Some people experience feelings of guilt and shame while they are eating. Rather than judge these thoughts, simply create mindful distance. This is a key feature of acceptance and commitment therapy.
9. Stay seated at the table for at least 20 minutes
If you finish eating before 20 minutes go by, continue to sit at the table and notice your surroundings and the sensations in your body.
10. Include gratitude after meal
Practicing gratitude after a meal is a psycho-spiritual construct that acknowledges to the universe that the food you have eaten is energy, reconstituted in a way that sustains life – meaning your life.
All of us engage in stress eating from time to time. This happens when we are pressed for time or caught up in the cadence of the day. I encourage clients to become aware of what they are feeling before eating.
If you are feeling anxious, try 5 minutes of mindful breathing before sitting down to eat. Many celebrities practice mindfulness, including
Limit distractions as much as possible. This means turning off the television and creating distance around other electronic devices, such as smart-phones and tablets.
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