What is Mindful Eating?
Mindfulness is about focusing your attention and awareness on the present moment. Being mindful whilst eating can help to disconnect from unsatisfying and harmful habits and behaviours. To put simply, mindful eating is the opposite of mindless eating and involves eating with awareness. It enables you to remove judgement and focus your attention and awareness on not only the food itself, but the way you respond to food, both physically and emotionally.
To be mindful we must first be present. This involves removing distractions, including the television, your phone and computer or tablet so that you can truly be in the moment, and focus on what foods you are consuming.
Here is a simple mindful eating activity you can do at home to practise the skill of eating mindfully:
- Choose one piece of food to enjoy e.g. strawberry, raisin, piece of chocolate or mandarin.
- Before you begin eating the food, bring your awareness to how you feel. Are you hungry? Have you started salivating as you think about the food you’re going to eat? If so, that’s great, it means the first phase of digestion has commenced called the gustatory phase.
- Bring your awareness to the visual appearance of the food. Be curious. Examine the shape and colour. What about the texture, does is feel rough or smooth?
- Bring the food to your nose, what does it smell like?
- Place the food on your tongue, notice the response of your salivary glands.
- Take a bite and be aware of the sounds and the texture on your tongue. Notice how the texture changes as you chew slowly.
- Now swallow. Pay attention to the food as it travels down your throat and the aftertaste in your mouth.
- How was this experience of eating? Did you increase your enjoyment and satisfaction of the food?
Too often we eat quickly, barely noticing the food which means we often don’t register that we’ve eaten or how much we’ve eaten! Ideally you should always eat mindfully but it’s likely this isn’t possible all of the time. At least try to eat slower and minimise distractions, which means your phone, your computer or the TV. Often people find it useful to try practising a mindful mouthful at least once/day.