Eating mindfully can transform your life in many ways. It will allow you to truly be present to the meal experience, to honor your authentic hunger and fullness cues as well as enrich the taste of the meal. Below are the ‘Three A’s” to begin eating in a more mindful way.
Arriving at food means that you become aware before a meal or snack that food has come into your personal space. This practice helps you transition from life’s distractions, slow down, and become more mindful before the meal begins.
Prior to eating, take 30 seconds to consider the following in silence:
- Take a close look at the food- notice colors, shapes and arrangements.
- Name all the foods you see to yourself.
- Name all the plants and animals that are represented in the food to yourself.
- Bring your face close to the food and detect all the odors in the food. Move your nose above each food and mindfully enjoy the aromas you sense.
- Think about the human effort it took to get the food to you. How many people were involved in the production and preparation of the food?
- Imagine yourself eating each food attentively and on purpose.
Awakening to food means that we pay attention to all aspects of the food. During your meal, pay particular attention to how fast you’re eating. It takes about 20 minutes for food to begin to work its way into the blood and change the levels of sugars and other nutrients there. If you slow down your eating and extend your meal past the digestion point, you will better determine how full you are.
During your eating experience:
- Insert pauses between bites by putting silverware or remaining food down.
- Concentrate on the taste of the food and the act of eating. Simply chew and pay attention.
- Keep chewing until the food is uniformly smooth. Use the consistency of the food as a signal to swallow.
- After you swallow, but before you bring more food to your mouth, rest for a few seconds, thereby inserting a pause into your eating.
Once you are finished eating, be mindful of the other activities that surround food and eating. Putting away the dishes and food as well as cleaning up are opportunities to be attentive.
Take 5-10 minutes of silence to journal the following:
- Notice how you are feeling physically. Rate your fullness using the hunger/fullness scale. How does this compare to how you rated yourself before starting to eat?
- Notice any thoughts you have about the meal. Did you eat without judgment? Are you having guilt or anger about how much you ate? Do you have an urge to eat more?
- Notice how satisfied you feel. What did you enjoy about the food you ate? What challenges or discomfort did you notice?
- Express gratitude for the meal, the people you shared the meal with, and the opportunity to honor your body and give it fuel.
Shrein Bahrami, MFT | 2146 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94123 | 415.595.8963