You could make 2010 the year you try a new concept with eating . . . Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a concept that I am hearing about more frequently in the news. There are books and written about mindful eating, like “I Can Make You Thin” by Paul McKenna and “Mindless Eating” by Brian Wansink. But do you consider mindfulness when it comes to eating?
Many thoughts could come to mind when you think of being mindful: the bitter cold, the extreme heat, a fresh layer of icy snow on the streets, the first thunderstorm of spring. But do you consider mindfulness when it comes to food and eating? According to TCME (The Center for Mindful Eating), mindful eating is:
• learning to make choices in beginning or ending a meal based on awareness of hunger and satiety cues;
• learning to identify personal triggers for mindless eating, such as emotions, social pressures, or certain foods;
• valuing quality over quantity of what you’re eating;
• appreciating the sensual, as well as the nourishing, capacity of food;
• feeling deep gratitude that may come from appreciating and experiencing food
Mindfulness helps you focus on the present moment, what you are doing right now. Mindful eating allows you to focus on the food. . .the taste, the smell, the texture and the experience of eating. If you are eating mindfully, you are deciding when to eat, what to eat and how much to eat based on the present moment and your own hunger and satiety (not based on the latest fad diet, or the latest weight loss method). You are connected to what your body needs and wants, AND you are only eating. Eating mindfully means that you are not watching TV and eating; you are not working and eating; you are not playing on the computer and eating; you are not doing anything but focusing on the food and eating.
Below is a mindful eating practice that you can use to experiment with mindful eating. Throughout the experience you may have a variety of different thoughts, feelings and experiences. Notice the thoughts and let them go without judging them.
To practice mindful eating:
• Choose a small amount of your favorite food.
• Before you start, get comfortable. Be sure you have enough time to quietly and calmly go through the activity.
• Start by taking a deep breath.
• Begin by thinking about the food that you are going to eat. What comes to mind when you think about the name of the food that you are going to eat. Think about the smell, the texture, what it will taste like, why you like it so much.
• Observe the shape and color of the food.
• What is the texture of the food?
• Smell the food, what is that like for you?
• Take a small bite the food. What is that experience like for you?
• Push the food around in your mouth without chewing or swallowing? What do you taste? What are you feeling?
• Be aware of thoughts and feelings you are having about the process, the texture, the taste. If you are having negative thoughts, notice them and let them go.
• Begin chewing; pay attention as you are chewing the food. What does it feel like to swallow it? Imagine the food as it goes down your esophagus picture it going into your stomach.
• Be aware of the process from the time you make your food choice to the time that it goes into your stomach.
• Go through the process with a second bite of your food.
This is mindful eating. You can practice the experience with small amounts of food and then transfer the practice to meals. There is evidence that people who eat mindfully are better able to maintain and/or achieve a healthy weight. Being mindful with eating is a skill and a way of life. It is possible to learn and could change your life. Good luck and have fun.
For more information about mindful eating check out “The Center for Mindful Eating” at www.tcme.org
Next time: “Fad Diets, the Antithesis of Mindful Eating.”