Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food. -Hippocrates
Recall your last truly enjoyable, savory and delightful meal.
•Think about where you were eating, who you were with and the emotions (happy, peaceful, festive, etc) you felt. Maybe it was at a fancy restaurant, home-cooked or down on the farm.
•Imagine the setting, tastes, and smells.
•Remember the conversation you enjoyed or the connection to nature (if your memory is also on a picnic, like mine!).
Chances are the meal experience you are imagining has nothing to do with the chicken sandwich from the drive-thru or energy bar and apple you ate while you were running from meeting-to-meeting last week.
Most of our meals are eaten as a reaction instead of an experience. Sometimes we eat because of the time of day, an attempt to cope with uncomfortable emotions, or out of habit – including mindless munching on the donuts your coworker brought to work.
How often do you eat and experience the food sitting in front of you?
Below are the first steps to trying out mindful eating for yourself.
(Modified from Eating with Fierce Kindness by Sasha Loring, M. ED., LCSW)
1. Find a minimally distracting place to eat, ideally a clean table set with utensils and a napkin.
2. After you set the food down, sit down and close your eyes to check in with your hunger level. On a scale of 1 to 5 identify how hungry you are – 1 and 2 are hungry, 3 is neutral, 4 is satisfied and 5 is full.
If you are feeling the urge to eat but don’t feel hunger check in on the emotional reason you want to eat.
3. Assess for stress. Do you feel relaxed? If not, take a few deep breaths, and focus on relaxing your muscles especially around the digestive system putting job throat and stomach.
4. Look at your food, notice what appeals to you such as the smells wafting from the plate. Take a moment to consider what went into this meal, including where the food came from, how it got to be on your plate. What do you appreciate about it?
5. Reassess your hunger level and sensations in the digestive track. Do you feel more or less hungry now?
6. Choose to take the first bite. After that, set down the fork, spoon or food item you’re holding and notice the taste, texture, temperature and so forth of what you are chewing. Pause to notice the compulsive reflex of how quickly you typically take the next bite or chew and swallow your food.
7. Continue enjoying the meal, including frequent fork breaks (FFBs) to stop and notice the flavors and reassess your hunger scale.
Food for thought:
A little challenging, huh?
No kidding, my first mindful eating experience – about 3 years ago – included a Facebook post halfway through where I decided that it just wasn’t for me.
Three years later, mindfulness and mindful eating have changed my life. Give it a try today to see how it can change yours too.
Recipe of the week:
On vacation last week, I had the most scrumptious turkey burger. It’s one of those foods I keep meaning to prepare myself – so let’s see how this flavorful option turns out!