Why do I eat? When do I eat? What do I eat? How much do I eat? Where do I invest my energy? These are the core questions to ask yourself when learning how to eat mindfully. Mindful eating focuses on being aware of the foods we eat and why we eat them. Many times in our culture we tend to eat quickly and often on the run with little time to focus on and enjoy the foods we eat. Similarly, we tend to eat more “mindlessly” by eating while we watch TV, work on the computer, or do paperwork. It is very easy to sit down with a bag of chips to watch your favorite TV show and by the end of the show look down and realize you ate half the bag. This is where it becomes important to eat mindfully by being aware of what we are eating and why.
The core principles to eating mindfully include being aware of the nourishment available through the process of food preparation and consumption, choosing enjoyable and nutritious foods, acknowledging food preferences non judgmentally, recognizing and honoring physical hunger and satiety cues, and using wisdom to guide eating decisions. Many of us eat for other reasons than physical hunger; which leads to the question why do you eat?
How do you eat mindfully? Start by answering the questions listed at the beginning of the article. Then try the exercises below.
Rate your hunger on a scale of 0 (most hungry) and 10 (least hungry).
1. What does a 0 feel like physically when you are extremely hungry?
2. What does a 10 feel like when you are as full as you can imagine?
3. What do you rate your hunger right now from 0-10? What about your body made you choose that specific number?
Eat a food mindfully, such as a raisin, grape, strawberry, chocolate, or a piece of cheese. First observe the appearance, texture, and aroma. Are there any changes that occur in your body as you observe the item such as salivating, impatience, or anticipation?
1. Place a small amount of the food in your mouth. Wait 30 seconds before chewing (1 minute for chocolate). After you are done chewing, consider the following questions:
a. What did you notice about the flavor or texture of the food before you started chewing? After you started chewing?
b. How does this compare to your typical experience eating this food?
For more information on eating mindfully check out http://www.thecenterformindfuleating.org .