I never thought that I will write a piece on this topic until recently when I took a session with a bunch of young executives on the nuisances of mindful eating. The session outcomes were quite interesting and I decided to write about it.
What is Mindful Eating?
One could say mindful eating is an act of chewing slowly which is also a way to paying attention to what we are putting into our mouth to satiate our hunger.
Typically mindful eating is:
- visualizing the nourishment and positivity that the food on the plate holds for the body and mind
- being non judgmental about the food i.e. comments, likes, dislikes etc.
- becoming grateful to people and elements who contributed to bringing that food to the plate.
In the hustle bustle of life today, it may not be easy or practical to spend half hour on every meal time in aloneness exercising the above points. However, once in a while just acknowledging the interconnectedness between us and the nature and the people and elements through the food on our plate can make the whole experience of eating more peaceful and contenting.
In a recent session with some young executives, we reflected upon the benefits of mindful eating, what is the phenomenon and what does not include mindful eating that brought out some interesting ways of how to eat with more awareness.
Some easy ways to mindfully eat on a day-to-day basis:
- While eating do not watch TV or phone. Try to dedicate 5-10 minutes uninterrupted to eating food.
- Eat only when the body signals you that it is hungry. Often we end up eating as a result of boredom, sadness, anger or false hunger.
- Experiment with eating in aloneness as well as eating with family / friends while being mindful of what goes on your plate and in your mouth.
- If possible eat with hands sometimes to feel the food.
The below exercise I share with others. It takes only 5-7 minutes but is a great way to becoming mindful effortlessly.
Mindfully Eating While Connecting with 5 senses. (Select any nut, slice of fruits, dry sweet)
Settle to Sit comfortably for a few seconds.
1. Sense of Sight – place the food / fruit in front of you on a table and look at it for few seconds. Observe it with attention. You can either write down / make a mental note of your thoughts about what you notice about the food.
2. Sense of Touch – take the food piece in your hands and notice its presence on your palms for few seconds . It is best to close your eyes in this. You can either write down / make a mental note of your thoughts.
3. Sense of Sound – Bring the food closer to your ear and notice for any sounds that you hear. You may flicker the food in your fingers or shake it gently. You may draw a comparative or get reminded of any other sound too. You can either write down / make a mental note of your thoughts about what you notice.
4. Sense of Smell – Take the food closer to your nostril to observe the intensity of its smell for a few seconds. You can either write down / make a mental note of your thoughts about what you notice.
5. Sense of Taste – place /pop the food into your mouth. Hold on your tongue for few seconds as you notice the food melting or becoming soft inside the mouth. Then slowly start to chew while noticing how it mixes with the saliva and the involvement of organs like tongue, teeth and saliva as you chew your food slowly and feel it travelling down into the body.
Repeat 2-3 bites more. Stay still for a few seconds. Gently open the eyes.
Posting an ‘after experience of mindfully eating a raisin’ of a participant from a recent mindful eating session.