Week Four: Mindful Eating

Introduction

 

Are you aware of your relationship with food? Everybody needs food to survive, consequently everybody has a relationship with food, however; a lot of us are not aware of it. Mindful eating allows you to become aware of your relationship with food. Do you enjoy eating food or do you simply do it out of necessity? 

Mindful eating means that you are aware of how you are feeling before, during and after a meal. When you are engaging in mindful eating, you are taking the time to ask yourself why you are eating. Are you hungry or are you simply bored? Do you want to eat this ice creme cone because it will be delicious and eating it will make you happy? You are also taking the time to notice how the food makes your body feel while you are eating it. You are noticing the smell, the texture and, of course, the taste of the food. Can feel it going down your throat? Taking the time to notice these things means that you will probably be eating slower than usual. You'll therefore be more likely to notice that you are full before you over eat. Mindful eating also includes being aware of how your body feels after a meal or a specific food. Do you feel full and heavy or satiated and light? 

When you are eating mindfully, you are doing nothing else. You are not watching television or scrolling through your phone. You are not engaged in conversation with friends and family. You are simply eating the food. 

 Mindful Eating & Your Relationship with Food 

Reflection

Most people are not fully aware of their relationship with food. Have you ever stopped to think about it? Probably not. Now is the time to do it. Answer the questions below to gain insight on your relationship with food. 

Self Assessment Questions

1. Do you eat when you feel sad, angry or lonely?

2. Do you wait until you feel hungry to eat?

3. Do you feel guilty after you've eaten too much or something that you wouldn't consider healthy?

4. Do you obsess over the food that you eat?

5. When you are eating with others, do you notice that you finish your meal before or after everyone else?

6. Are you always trying a new diet? 

7. Do you enjoy eating? 

8. Have you ever noticed how you feel after you've eaten a specific food? 

9. Does eating make you feel happy? 

10. Do you enjoy eating?  

Based on your answers to the questions above, how would you characterize your relationship with food? Is it healthy? Could you benefit from changing some eating habits? 

Inspiration

The very popular mindful eating exercise is the raisin meditation. During this exercise, you learn to eat a raisin mindfully. The instructions on how to do it are listed below. (source)

Eating a raisin mindfully  

1. Holding: First, take a raisin and hold it in the palm of your hand or between your finger and thumb.

2. Seeing: Take time to really focus on it; gaze at the raisin with care and full attention—imagine that you’ve just dropped in from Mars and have never seen an object like this before in your life. Let your eyes explore every part of it, examining the highlights where the light shines, the darker hollows, the folds and ridges, and any asymmetries or unique features.

3. Touching: Turn the raisin over between your fingers, exploring its texture. Maybe do this with your eyes closed if that enhances your sense of touch.

4. Smelling: Hold the raisin beneath your nose. With each inhalation, take in any smell, aroma, or fragrance that may arise. As you do this, notice anything interesting that may be happening in your mouth or stomach.

5. Placing: Now slowly bring the raisin up to your lips, noticing how your hand and arm know exactly how and where to position it. Gently place the raisin in your mouth; without chewing, noticing how it gets into your mouth in the first place. Spend a few moments focusing on the sensations of having it in your mouth, exploring it with your tongue.

6. Tasting: When you are ready, prepare to chew the raisin, noticing how and where it needs to be for chewing. Then, very consciously, take one or two bites into it and notice what happens in the aftermath, experiencing any waves of taste that emanate from it as you continue chewing. Without swallowing yet, notice the bare sensations of taste and texture in your mouth and how these may change over time, moment by moment. Also pay attention to any changes in the object itself.

7. Swallowing: When you feel ready to swallow the raisin, see if you can first detect the intention to swallow as it comes up, so that even this is experienced consciously before you actually swallow the raisin.

8. Following: Finally, see if you can feel what is left of the raisin moving down into your stomach, and sense how your body as a whole is feeling after you have completed this exercise.

Did you notice that the raisin tastes different when you eat it mindfully? Perhaps you enjoyed the raisin more than you usually would. Have noticed some new flavours or textures? How many raisins do you feel you could have eaten like this? This exercise is a great way for you to notice just how much eating mindfully can change your relationship with food.  

Application

Mindful eating can undoubtedly lead to a healthier diet. When you are mindful of what you eat, you will naturally gravitate towards healthier choices. You'll notice that you feel much better after having eaten roasted veggies than you do after having eaten a box of cookies. This awareness will guide you towards food choices that make you feel good. You'll also notice that healthy food may taste better than you initially thought when you take the time to savour and enjoy them. When you do choose to indulge in a tasty ( and perhaps unhealthy treat), being mindful will allow you to enjoy the experience thoroughly and you may notice that one brownie is enough and that you do not want the second one.  

Weekly Assignment

This week, your assignment is to commit to eating at least one meal a day mindfully. Take the time to notice why you are eating and how you feel (mind and body) before you eat. Take one bite at a time and take in the smell, texture and flavour of the food. Try to put your utensils down in between each bite. Notice when you start to feel full. How do you feel after the meal? How is your body responding to the meal? 

Congratulations on completing the week four content! 

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“Training your mind to be in the present moment is the #1 key to making healthier choices.”
– Susan Albers