Whether you're looking to lose weight or simply want to start a meditation practice, mindful eating can be a great way to feel more centered, at ease, and help you ‘lighten’ up your body and mind.
We can use this to bring more mindfulness into our lives three times a day – which will promote well-being all day long.
Practicing a mindful eating meditation doesn’t just allow you to taste, savor, and appreciate your food more, but it also helps to reduce stress and anxiety, and initiate a state of relaxation. This helps us shift our nervous system into a state of “rest and digest” promoting more complete digestion from breaking food down, to assimilating and eliminating it. This allows our body to make better use of the nutrition we are offering it, and to eliminate excessive toxins that would break down our well-being.
In addition, when we slow down to enjoy and be present with our food, we stop gobbling and gulping. We often find that we are satiated and satisfied with less than we normally shovel in.
And, since we eat several times a day, you are only a bite away from feeling more calm and present. Your meals become another place where you can help make subtle changes that can calm you and change your life. This gives you back the choice of how you want to live as opposed to coursing on autopilot.
This practice can be fun too! Try it with your family. As you all slow down to eat, talk about the experience: have each person describe the ingredients they discover, texture, or taste.
Try it: mindful eating
You can try this with a meal or even a bite-sized snack. Sit in your chair, comfortably and
upright. Pause with 3-10 deep breaths. Relax and gaze at your food.
- Look at the food on your plate. Contemplate where it comes from, (and all the ingredients) all the way back to who planted the seed, or helped care for the animals. Consider all the hands that helped bring this food from the place of origin through whatever processing was needed all the way to your plate. Without going on a guilt trip, allow any gratitude you may have for the full journey of this food that eventually landed on your plate. This will bring the feeling of thankfulness that is at the heart of a meaningful mindfulness practice. It will also help set your body up in “rest and digest.”
- Notice as much about the food as you pick it up towards your mouth, before you put it in your mouth: its smell, colors, texture etc.
- Slowly bring your first bite to your mouth. Focus on the way it feels in your mouth, its texture, temperature, and taste. Notice any thoughts you have about the experience. Are you enjoying it, or are you deciding how it could taste better? Does it need more salt, sugar, or spice? What are you thinking about the food?
- Chew this first bite fully, follow it as it moves around your mouth and then as you swallow. After you swallow, pause for a few breaths, noticing how you feel before you take another bite.
- As you continue for the next few bites, ensure that you fully taste, chew, swallow and then pause and breathe before you take another bite.
- When you feel finished with your meal, even if you forget to eat mindfully after the first three bites, pause all over again.
- Finish your meal with several relaxed breaths as you look at your plate. Perhaps it is empty perhaps you still have food left. Simply relax and appreciate your meal that you finished, and the time you had to sit and eat.