Slowing down to eat is a great way to more fully taste and enjoy your food. So often we eat and do not realize what we had until it is gone. Many of us do not even remember eating and wonder why we are gaining weight. This is called mindless eating — our minds are not on our food or how it tastes. There are some ways to increase your awareness of your meals. Being aware can help curb unwanted weight gain and increase your enjoyment of each meal. This process is like mediating. During mediation we are told to focus on our breathing and be in the present moment. During mindful eating, we are told to focus on how our food feels – and tastes–in our mouths. When done right, this can have the same relaxing affect as meditation. Follow these simple steps to increase your mindfulness during mealtimes.
First, decide if you are hungry for the food you are about to eat. Use the hunger scale to determine your hunger level. The hunger scale is a great tool for determining how hungry you feel. It is a scale that ranges from 0-5 with 0 being completely famished and 5 being painfully stuffed. Check in with yourself and ask “How hungry am I?” If you are at the 1-2 range then eat, and stop at the 3-4 range. The key here is to pay attention to your hunger signals. Being aware enough to monitor how your body feels is a good way to learn mindfulness. It also helps you to slow down and eat less.
Next, eat in a designated place such as the kitchen table. Eating usually takes place either in a car or on your desk at work. Having a jam packed lifestyle not only causes mindless eating but obesity, burnout and exhaustion. Enjoying your meal in a special place allows you to stop what you were doing and focus exclusively on your food. Eat slowly and avoid doing other things, such as office work or watching TV. If you feel you don’t have time to pay attention to your food, consider rearranging your schedule so you can take out the time to eat and enjoy it.
Third, when eating your food, sit and savor the tastes. Note whether the food is salty, sweet, bitter or tangy. Let the taste linger in your mouth. Then, feel the textures of the food in your mouth. Is it rough? Or smooth? Also note the colors of your food. Look for dark greens, bright oranges or vibrant reds. How do these colors work together on the plate? Notice how the rainbow of color meshes together like a painting. Continue with this process until you are no longer hungry or your food is gone.
ABC Local Chicago, Mindful Eating For Families, http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=resources&id=6470473, Accessed June 19th, 2009.