Changing Our Mind’s Notions About Food: Mindful Eating Exercise
All of our problematic behaviors are rooted in habitual ways of thinking, which is why mindfulness exercises can help.
These exercises give us a new awareness, allowing us to see the same old thing differently. And awareness is a precursor to change.
This mindful eating exercise may be of help to anyone trying to develop healthy eating habits or trying to loosen the grip of unhealthy ones. It can open new avenues of thought in the mind, disrupting old avenues. If you are attracted to the exercise or feel curious about it, it may be something that will benefit you.
Mindful Eating Exercise
Do this exercise when you are eating a meal alone, or do it in silence with other willing individuals. Consider carefully what to eat; because this is an exercise for greater awareness around food, you may want to choose whole, non-processed foods and foods that are highly flavorful.
- Prepare the meal with present-moment awareness, which simply means being attentive to the task at hand.
- Sit down with the prepared food before you and close your eyes for a few moments. You might give thanks for the food or take a few slow, deep breaths to center and calm yourself.
- Before taking a bite of food, notice any physical sensations such as the feeling of hunger in your stomach or your mouth watering.
- Smell your food, look at the shapes and colors on your plate, and then begin eating. Be aware of the flavors exploding in your mouth, notice how the food feels on your lips and tongue, enjoy the food’s warmth or coolness and its texture, and notice how the food tastes in different areas of your mouth.
- Chew slowly and chew every mouthful thoroughly. Savor every bite.
- Notice the movement of your jaw and your tongue as you eat, the way your body knows how to prepare food for digestion and gradually moves it toward your throat for swallowing. Be attentive to the act of swallowing.
- If your awareness drifts away from eating, simply pull it back without giving it a hard time.
- Occasionally check in with your stomach to gauge how full you are and notice when you begin to feel satisfied. If possible, stop eating when you are satisfied but before you reach the sensation of fullness.
You may want to do this exercise once a week or once a month – for as long as you feel it benefits you.
Adapted from: Emmons, Henry, M.D. The chemistry of Joy Workbook, Raincoast Books, 2012