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What is mindful eating? Just as with mindfulness in other areas of life, mindful eating is about focusing your full attention on what you’re doing–what you’re eating, how it tastes, and the textures, flavors, colors, and other elements of the food in front of you. It’s fully enjoying your meal without distraction or judgment. It’s taking your time with each bite, focusing on chewing, tasting, swallowing, and the health benefits that nutritious foods provide for your body.
Slow Down and Pay Attention
Eating mindfully offers multiple advantages overeating thoughtlessly. When you slow down and pay attention to the activity at hand, you’ll enjoy the taste of the food more fully and enjoy better digestion. It may even help with weight management as you become more conscious of what you’re putting into your body. You’ll eat more slowly and become more in tune with your body and the difference between real hunger and temporary cravings. To explore these benefits, try eating meditation.
An approach to eating meditation that’s perfect for beginners is the Trail Mix Meditation Technique. All you need is a small portion of trail mix (but this exercise will work just fine with any other simple food that you can eat with your fingers). Now:
- Sit comfortably and close your eyes. You may sit on the couch, in a chair, cross-legged on the floor, or wherever you feel the most relaxed and centered.
- Select one item from your bowl or dish using your index finger and thumb. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a raisin, a peanut, a piece of dried fruit, or anything else–just pick up one piece of food and feel its texture in your fingers. This approach ensures that you focus on just one small bite at a time.
- Chew slowly. Put the food into your mouth and chew, noticing all the sensations on your mouth. Is the food crunchy, soft, or chewy? Does it taste fruity, nutty, salty, or sweet?
Done correctly, this exercise will require you to take you up to 20 minutes to finish a small portion of food. Focus all your awareness on the act of tasting the food and enjoying each tiny bite. You’ll likely notice that eating this way makes flavors more intense and satisfying.
Practice Makes Perfect
It may not always be practical to use this eating meditation technique when you are with friends or in restaurants, but you may be able to eat mindfully in some of these situations, too. Practice alone so that when you are with others, you can apply the same principles and eat less while enjoying your food more.