Mindful eating is not a diet, no menus or recipes in this article. It’s more about learning HOW we eat than WHAT we eat.
Because let’s face it, the way we eat is the way we live: disconnected and absent, sitting on the couch, watching TV absent-mindlessly munching on anything. Or wandering into the kitchen looking for snacks when we are bored or stressed out. Working on our desks while not even looking at the food we are consuming. Drinking our coffee while reading the newspaper, checking our email, having a conversation, listening to the radio all of the same time…
And today with the Corona-Virus quarantine, confined in our homes, the big hazard is continuously reaching for comfort food to numb the anxiety caused by the lack of perspective in our lives and or an uncertain near future.
The good news is that there are easy ways to wake our awareness up, to shift us out of unhealthy eating habits. In the following 2 exercises, we try to be fully present with just one activity: eating or drinking. And just as we mindfully have a raisin or a tea, we can also take that lesson and apply it to every activity of our lives.
MINDFUL EATING EXERCISE
Take a tiny dried fruit, maybe a cranberry or a raisin:
- LOOK: place on your palm & check its color, shades. Notice its shape, firmness, wrinkles.
- TOUCH delicately between finger tips, explore its texture.
- PLACE ON TONGUE roll it around exploring. Feel the shape. Notice the desire to swallow, but don’t.
- SMELL let it lay on tongue and allow it to rehydrate, feel its engorgement. Allow the aromas to arise. Can you catch a scent? Does it have different aromas?
- CHEW consciously take a bite, notice the pulpy texture between your teeth, savour the flavor it releases. Continue without swallowing.
- SWALLOW but first detect the intention to swallow, then swallow slowly. With the mind’s eye, follow raisin down into throat.
- AFTER EFFECTS closing the eyes, allowing the experience to linger. What is the after taste? Feel the void and tendency to look for another.
- GRATITUDE for nature’s bounty. Think about country of origin, the natural elements for its growth: sun, rain… How many people harvested and packaged it? … How many km has it traveled? How many people handled it to bring it to your hand?
MINDFUL TEA-CUP EXPERIENCE
Prepare a cup of tea and use it as a time of meditation.
- First observe the cup, the color, the shape, the weight.
- Put your hands around tea cup, feel the warmth, on your hands, over your face.
- Take in the smell and lift the cup.
- Take a sip, taste the tea, feeling the warmth as you swallow.
- You may notice judgement coming up: “I chose the wrong tea”, “I should get to work” … Whatever it might be, allowing them to come and to go.
- Simply returning to the actual direct experience in the moment, just now…
QUICK TIPS FOR MINDFUL EATING
- Slow down: It takes 15 minutes for your food to reach the stomach and for the brain to send a signal that it is full.
- Put your fork / knife, down between bites
- Sip, your drink, don’t gulp.
- Chew more, don’t swallow till you have completely grinded your food with teeth.
- Focus on your 5 senses:
- What you taste
- What you smell
- What you see
- What you feel in the mouth
- What you hear, noise as you drink or swallow
- Don’t multitask
- Always sit at the table
- No screens
- No working
- Be grateful & honor your meal.