Written by Dietitic Intern, Jamie Freier

Mindfulness is the practice of paying acute attention to what is happening in our present moment. The key to mindfulness is to free yourself from judgmental thoughts while also thoughtfully experiencing what is currently going on around you. Whether your observations are mental, physical, or emotional, the tricky part about practicing mindfulness is that it truly takes practice. The more time you spend observing your surroundings and inner thoughts, the easier mindfulness will become.

A good starting point for attempting mindfulness is to try refocusing your energy away from forming an opinion about what you are experiencing. This may seem difficult at first, but after a while you may start to notice how much more at ease you feel when you are not obligated to justify your feelings. Many times, you may notice that the same thoughts keep reoccurring, and rather than labeling them (as good, bad, or otherwise), acknowledge the thoughts and let them pass. This way, you can continue to focus on what is actually happening in the present moment.

Now that you have a basic understanding of mindfulness, you are finally ready to begin the practice of Mindful Eating. Mindful Eating is the practice of focusing your energy entirely on the food in front of you and your body’s relationship with it while eating. For best results, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to eat and follow these simple rules:

  • Relax. Your body digests food the best when you are in a relaxed state. Being too active or too stressed while eating may cause digestive issues.
  • Chew. The more time you spend chewing your food, the more flavors you will experience and the more nutrients you will absorb.
  • Taste. What does your food taste like? Try guessing which taste buds on your tongue are activated. What do you like about it? What do you dislike about it?
  • Think. Think about what ingredients are in your food. Where did all of the ingredients come from? Do you know what they are? Try to follow your food as far back as you can go. You can even take this a step further if you are eating an animal product. What do you think the animal ate? The closer you can get to the soil the better.

One of the easiest ways to begin to incorporate mindful eating into your daily routine is to start immediately. Take a few moments to relax and think about yourself for a change. Let’s go on a journey for discovering what mindful eating is for you right now, in this present moment.

Please take some time to think about the answers to the following questions. Try to think deeply, and give yourself enough time to come up with the most accurate answers to the following questions:

  • How are you feeling today?
  • What is your body telling you?
  • Do you have any pain?
  • Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Are you satisfied? Are you full?

If you are eating while reading this:

  • How does your food taste? Is it sweet, salty, sour, bitter?
  • Do you like how your food tastes?
  • Where did it come from, a home, a store, a farm?
  • What is your food made of?
  • How does your food make you feel while you are eating it?

Although, this was an extremely short exercise, we hope you were able to feel the greater sense of awareness and insight regarding your individual needs as a human being. The more you progress through your journey of mindful eating, the more in tune you will become with your personal body’s true nutritional wants and needs. In fact, you are already well on your way to making the most of your eating experiences day in and day out. Best of luck to you and your future endeavors with Mindful Eating!

“In the dimension of space and time,
We chew as rhythmically as we breathe.
Maintaining the lives of all our ancestors,
opening an upward path for descendants.

So when we eat mindfully we can be in direct contact with our ancestors as well as our descendants and use the time of eating to see how we can nourish the best things our ancestors have passed onto us and how to continue to transmit what is most precious to future generations.”

– Zen Buddhist Master, Thich Nhat Hanh

 

References:

  1. A Conversation with Thich Nhat Hanh About Savor. http://www.oprah.com/spirit/a-conversation-with-thich-nhat-hanh-about-savor. Accessed October 4, 2017.
  2. About The Center for Mindful Eating. https://www.thecenterformindfuleating.org/Resources/

Documents/TCME_2014_introbrochure.pdf. Accessed October 4, 2017.