The Act of Mindful Eating

In our land of multi-tasking, mile long to-do lists and deadlines that must be met, Mindful Eating is an art that few of us have mastered.  Ours is a grab and go society. Eating breakfast as you drive to work, lunch while still working at the computer, and dinner gulped down as you're flying out the door to take the kids to their next activity, or maybe while you're watching T.V. No big deal, right?  At least we're getting things accomplished in our day.  Wrong.

Mindless eating, while the norm in our country, often leads to overeating, indigestion, and obesity.  We're not able to relax with our food, chew it, savor and really taste it.  Eating like this often interferes with your body's ability to recognize it's own level of satiety---you don't remember whether you've eaten or not, let alone hear the "I'm full" or "I've had enough" messages your body may be trying to send.

The act of mindful eating is a deliberate process in which you are fully present with your food.  The eyes have time to examine the soup, noticing colors, shapes and sizes.  The nose has a change to smell the food's aroma.  The mouth evaluates the texture, temperature and flavor.  And the brain processes all of this information, allowing you to determine if you truly like this food or not.

Eating mindfully helps slow down food intake, which helps with weight loss and management.
Jan Chozen Bays' book, "Mindful Eating, A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food," (bookmarked in the My Favorites list to the right,)  is a wonderful resource, which includes a CD that guides you through mindful eating exercises. Learning to eat one raisin mindfully was a truly eye-opening event.

This week, try to focus on
Guidelines for Eating Mindfully:

  • Use a place mat and set the table.  Make your place to eat truly inviting.
  • Sit down at a table to eat.
  • Hunger level.  On a scale of 0 - 5, with 5 being very, very hungry, and 0 really full, how hungry are you right now?
  • Eyes: examine your food.  What colors do you see, what shapes?  Is it pleasing, does it make you hungry just looking at it?
  • Nose: what aromas do you detect? Is your appetite stimulated as you smell it?
  • Mouth.  Put it in your mouth. What texture do you feel?  Is it smooth and creamy or bumpy and lumpy?  What temperature do you note?
  • Bite.  What flavors do you detect?  Is it pleasurable?  Does the flavor make you want to eat more?
  • Swallow. Analyze.  Is the food really good, or not so good? Do you want more?
  • Physical Hunger level.  On a sale of 0 - 5, how hungry are you now?
  • Choose to eat more or stop eating.
The more you practice the art of mindful eating, the easier the process becomes. So many people have told me that the simple act of mindful eating has helped them really get a handle on their overeating challenges.  Try it this week, and let me know what you think.

Slow down, you're eating too fast....
You've got to make this process last!

Motivation is what gets you started,
Habit is what keeps you going.