Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating

The holiday season is starting and there will be an abundance of food choices!  This holiday season, try practicing mindfulness while you eat.

What is Mindful Eating?

Paying attention to your food, on purpose, moment by moment, and without judgment

Mindful Eating involves:

  • eating slowly
  • eating without distraction
  • listening to your physical hunger cues and eating only until you are full
  • engaging your senses while eating by noticing colors, smells, sounds, textures, and flavors
  • appreciating your food

How to Practice Mindful Eating:

  • come to the table with an appetite but not overly hungry
  • pause before you begin eating and reflect on everything and everyone it took to bring the meal to your plate
  • silently express your gratitude for the opportunity to have the food and the people you are enjoying the food with
  • pay attention to the color, smell and texture of the food and as you chew, and try to identify all the flavors in your mouth
  • take small bites, put down your utensil between bites while you are chewing, and swallow your bite before taking another bite

Mindful eating has been shown to:

• reducing stress associated with eating

• aid weight loss

• prevent binge eating

Raisin Exercise:

The Raisin Exercise is commonly used as a short exercise to introduce mindful eating.

  1. Holding: 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 the raisin. Gaze at the raisin with care and full attention. Let your eyes explore every part of the raisin and examine 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 and explore its texture. Try doing this with your eyes closed so that it 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.

Mindful eating has been shown to:

  • reducing stress associated with eating
  • aid weight loss
  • prevent binge eating

Mindful Eating is a very powerful tool!  Try it with your family this holiday season.