What did you eat in the last few hours? It’s likely you can’t remember exactly what it tasted and felt like. Especially if you were busy with other tasks − work, driving somewhere, looking after the kids, or browsing the latest news on your smartphone.
Mindful eating is the method of practicing mindfulness to enjoy and focus on the present, helping you tune into what you are sensing and experiencing. Mindfulness is often used as part of treatment plans for depression, anxiety and eating disorders, as a way of recognising and coping with emotions.
Applying mindfulness to mealtimes can help you gain control over your eating and transform your relationship with food.
Why it works
Using the practices of mindfulness, you can remove distractions to bring awareness to the present and have a fuller appreciation for what you’re eating.
When to do it
- In times of overwhelming emotion, stress or busy days.
- At mealtimes with various foods, to focus on how your body is feeling and responding to food intake.
- When snacking at your work desk or on your lunch break.
How to do it
Practice mindful eating, using a raisin or an alternative small textured snack. The ideal choice for mindful eating practice is something nutritious, but you can apply it to just about anything.
First, take the raisin and hold it in the palm of your hand or in between your finger and thumb.
Take your time to really focus on the raisin. Gaze at the raisin with your full attention. Let your eyes explore every part of it, examining the highlights where the light shines, the darker hollows, the folds and the ridges.
Turn the raisin over between your fingers, exploring its texture (recommended to touch with your eyes shut).
Hold the raisin beneath your nose. With each inhalation, take in any aroma that may arise. As you do, notice anything happening in the stomach or mouth.
Slowly bring the raisin up to your lips. Gently place it in your mouth without chewing. Notice how it is in your mouth and explore with your tongue.
Prepare to chew the raisin. Notice how and where it needs to be for chewing. Very consciously, take one or two bites into the raisin and notice what happens in the aftermath while experiencing the taste. Without swallowing yet, notice the sensations of the taste and texture in your mouth, paying close attention to any changes.
When you feel ready to swallow the raisin, see if you can first detect the intention to swallow before you go ahead and do so.
See if you can feel what is left of the raisin in your stomach, and sense how your body is feeling as a whole after the exercise.
Mindfulness isn’t something you have to jump into all or nothing. Try eating one meal or snack mindfully once a day − or even once a week − to start off with, and then seek to grow this over time.
If you liked this activity, perhaps you might like to try our Seven Days of Mindful Eating activity next!
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified Health Care Professional.