Taking time to enjoy food can be difficult with our busy schedules. When we eat quickly we outpace our bodies communication with our brain. Distracted we not only miss our bodies own cues, but we miss the pleasure of food. Being mindful during meals and snacks can offer a sense of satisfaction without any changes to the food itself.
So what is this whole mindful eating nonsense you may ask? Is it going to require hour long meals? Does it mean you have to eat vegetables with all your meals? Are you supposed to meditate during your lunch? Well, those are great ideas, but not always realistic.
Mindful eating is simply the act of slowing down and paying more attention to your meal. Use all five senses when you eat. Feel the texture of your food. Is it soft like a peach or crisp like a carrot? Is it warm or cold? Smell the aromas. Is it a bold smell like fresh fajitas or maybe a light smell like fresh cut strawberries? See the colors. Is the food bright and vibrant or more neutral and earthy? Do your meals have a beautiful arrangement of colors? Hear the sounds. Is there a satisfying crunch when you bite? Can you hear the sound of your coffee filling the cup? And of course, truly taste each bite. Is your food salty, savory, sweet, bitter, sour, or maybe a combination?
If you’re not used to eating mindfully, try this exercise. Grab a small piece of chocolate and take a small bite, but don’t chew it. Allow the chocolate to melt in your mouth. Pay attention to the taste. Maybe it is milk chocolate and you can taste the sweetness in the velvety texture. Or maybe you like a darker chocolate and you can sense some of the bitter undertones. Finish the whole piece of chocolate bite by bite. Was this little snack more satisfying than when you mindlessly eat it in one bite?
Try one (or more) of these tips to eat more mindfully during your next meal
Avoid using your phone, computer, or tv during your meal.
Focus on chewing each bite of your food.
Check in with yourself before you eat your meal. How hungry are you? What are you feeling other than hunger?
Be grateful for your food. Think beyond your plate. A lot of work went into whatever you’re eating. Where did all of the ingredients come from?
Set your fork or spoon down while you are chewing your food.
Take a second to transition from the business of your day. Pause and take a deep breath before you start your meal.
Sip your drink instead of taking large gulps.