Mindfulness is very topically at the moment, which is fantastic! The practice of mindfulness has been shown to have significant benefits for mental health and general wellbeing. It is the concept of bringing your awareness to your experience of the present moment. It may also include gratitude for that moment. Mindful eating borrows mindfulness techniques to bring awareness to the experience of eating. This includes body sensations, thoughts, emotions as well as the act of eating.
The holiday season can be a joyful time but can also bring stress, tension and feeling of being rushed. Sometimes this can effect our relationship with food and stop us from honouring our body’s needs. Practicing mindful eating at even a few meals this holiday season can help retune into body signals and foster body trust. When we trust and respect our bodies we are more likely to care for them in a way that honours our values, and let’s face it, feels a lot better! Added bonus, this has been shown to improve your health as well.
There are many guided mindful eating videos and recordings on the internet. You could also try asking a friend to read out the following script to you in a relaxed, calm voice.
Bring your food to a quiet place, and reduce any distractions. Take 5 deep breathes, inhaling and filling your lungs, exhaling slowly.
Bring your awareness to your body, notice any sensations, tension or pain. Are you hungry?
Notice and thoughts and emotions. Are you thinking about the food or something else? Are you feeling any strong emotions?
Bring your attention to the food. Pretend you are seeing it for the first time, what do you notice? Consider all that was involved in bringing the food to you, time, sunshine, water, labour, processing and transport. You may choose to be grateful for this food and what it provides you. You may choose to bring your own spiritual blessing.
Notice the colour and shape of the food, does it look appealing? Hold the food in your hand, is it soft, firm, smooth or rough? Is it cool or warm? Take another deep breath and remain present in this moment.
Slowly bring the food to your nose, and smell. What scents do you notice? Do they invoke any memories? Again, notice any body sensations. You may have started the digestive process already.
Bring the food to you mouth and take a small bite. Hold the food in your mouth for a moment, then roll it around your tongue. What do you taste, where on your tongue do you taste it? Has the texture changed?
Start to chew the food. What does this sound like? Does the taste change? Swallow the food. Notice the feeling in your stomach as the food moves down. Notice the taste left in your mouth. Continue to breath deeply and be aware of you experience in this moment.
Take your time eating the remainder of the food in this way. Observe sensations and thoughts as they come and go. Once finished take a moment to reflect on the experience.
See an Eat Smart Dietitian for more support with mindful eating and improving your relationship with food.