Have you ever eaten a whole bag of popcorn while watching a movie, taking one large handful at a time - without much awareness - only to find the bag empty well before the end of the movie? Well, that is the opposite of mindfulness!
You may have heard of mindful eating. Here are some instructions for a brief mindfulness eating exercise.
The following exercise is simple and will only take a few minutes.
Find a small piece of food, such as one kernel of popcorn, a raisin, a nut, or a small cookie. You can use any food that you like. Eating with mindfulness is not about deprivation or rules. It is about appreciating and enjoying your food.
Begin by exploring this little piece of food, using as many of your senses as possible.
First, look at the food. Notice its texture. Notice its color.
Now, close your eyes, and explore the food with your sense of touch. What does this food feel like?
Notice that you’re full attention is on the here and now as you experience this piece of food like never before. This is what it means to eat mindfully.
Before you eat, explore this food with your sense of smell. What do you notice?
Now, begin eating. No matter how small the bite of food you have is, take at least two bites to finish it.
Take your first bite. Please chew very slowly, noticing the actual sensory experience of chewing and tasting. You might want to close your eyes for a moment to focus on the sensations of chewing and tasting.
Notice the texture of the food; the way it feels in your mouth.
Notice if the intensity of its flavor changes, moment to moment.
Take a little bit more time to very slowly finish this first bite of food, being aware of the simple sensations of chewing and tasting.
It isn’t always necessary to eat slowly in order to eat with mindfulness, however it’s helpful at first to slow down, in order to be as mindful as you can.
Now, please take your second and final bite.
As before, chew very slowly, while paying close attention to the actual sensory experience of eating: the sensations and movements of chewing, the flavor of the food as it changes, and the sensations of swallowing.
Just pay attention, moment by moment. You may find that you not only enjoy eating that little piece of food more than ever before, but you also may feel calmer and more focused.
Using a mindfulness eating exercise on a regular basis is only one part of a mindfulness approach to your diet. The new way of experiencing food through mindfulness takes a deeper effect when you begin to pay mindful attention to your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations, all of which lead us to eat. Mindfulness is the foundation that many have been missing for overcoming food cravings, addictive eating, binge eating, emotional eating, and stress eating.