When Was The Last Time You Ate Mindfully?
I can’t remember. For me, most days my meals are spent hunched over my desk, clicking away at the keyboard or standing at the counter grabbing a bite here and there as I attempt to clean the kitchen or keep my two-year old son from splattering yogurt on the wall. I never sit down in a comfortable chair, without the distraction of TV/computer/children, with a (cold!) drink and slowly, mindfully enjoy my food. And I realize, I’m missing out!
Mindful eating is about slowing down and approaching your meal with a “beginner’s mind”, engaging all of your senses and curiously exploring the tastes, smells, textures and even the thoughts and feelings that arise as you eat. The practice of mindful eating requires self-regulation and has been shown to have a variety of benefits on your overall health and wellness.
One of the most common mindful eating exercises was created by John Kabat-Zinn and is often referred to as the “raisin exercise”. Here is a brief version of the practice for you to try:
1. Get one raisin (or another small piece of food) and begin by examining it with your eyes and touch: look at the wrinkles, roll the raisin between your fingers and notice the sticky, soft textures.
2. Next, bring the raisin to your nose to explore the smells. Pause to consider the thoughts that enter your mind or feelings that emerge. If your mind begins to wander, use your self-regulation to bring your attention back to the raisin.
3. Lastly, put the raisin in your mouth and study the tastes and flavors that you notice. How does the raisin feel as you chew it? What else do you observe?
This is a deliberate practice of mindful eating that can be used to get yourself used to the process, but the idea is to use these strategies in your daily life with each meal. Mindful eating can help you maintain a healthy weight, curb tendencies to eat because of sad feelings or boredom and also improve self-regulation in other areas of your life, such as an exercise program or managing your finances.
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