This is a guest post by Carla Wyatt:
Mindfulness: A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly and non-judgmentally acknowledging one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations.
The present moment is the only time anyone has to perceive, learn, grow, or change. – Jon Kabat-Zinn
I am a big fan of mindfulness. I am also a big fan of eating. Put the two together? I. Am. Sold.
Mindfulness can dramatically change our lives. It can bring a deep sense of appreciation and fullness to each moment. Experiences, like eating, can be richer and more satisfying.
Mindfulness, even in its simplicity, can be one of the most challenging practices. Now that I think about it, I guess the same can be said for healthy eating.
We are used to having packed schedules, eating on the run, in our cars and eating food for convenience instead of health. We are constantly being bombarded by clever food marketing strategies and misinformation. It is no wonder that we don’t know what is what anymore! Who has time to focus on the NOW?!?
Slowing down and focusing on the present can be hard! Just try to be mindful for, let’s say, 5 minutes. Completely mindful, fully present in the moment…starting NOW, I’ll wait…
Oh, lost it already?? Yeah, me too. Did you get distracted by bacon? Just me?
The good news is that mindfulness is a PRACTICE and a great way to start the practice of mindfulness is with an eating meditation. It is traditionally done with a raisin. (In case you really dislike raisins, it can be done with anything. Might I suggest a small piece of dark chocolate?)
The eating meditation goes a little something like this…
Start by taking 3 rounds of breath, as deep into your belly as you can get it. See if you can move your awareness with your breath, following it in and out.
Put the raisin in your hand. Really look at it, like you have never seen a raisin before.
Now close your eyes.
Put the raisin in your mouth.
Slowly, S-l-o-w-l-y chew the raisin, don’t swallow. Just move it naturally in your
mouth noticing the taste and the texture. Do the flavors change? Does the texture
or shape change? What do you notice?
When you are ready, swallow the raisin and open your eyes.
No magic in that, right? That is mindful eating at its simplest.
Of course, there can be so much more to mindful eating. We can be mindful as we make our food choices at the market. We can be fully present in the experience of preparing our food. We can pay attention to how our body reacts to the foods that we are eating. The practice of mindfulness will also lead us to look into our motivation for eating. Are we truly hungry? Or are we motivated by emotions, boredom, reward, or social pressures?
Mindful eating can help us become more aware of our hunger and satiety cues. How do you feel when you start your meal? Ravenous? A little hungry? Hangry? How do you feel when you finish your meal? Do you need to unbutton your pants? Do you feel about 80% full? Eating mindfully allows time for our brain to register that we are full, which can take about 20 minutes.
Sit down, do nothing else but eat. Eat with all of your senses. Put your fork down between bites. See if you can extend your meal time and really savor your food. Make your first bite a mindful bite. Similar to the raisin exercise above. Close your eyes, and really experience the food. Do this exercise mid-way through your meal and with your last bite as well. You will be amazed at how much more satisfying the eating experience is, and likely you will feel full sooner, because you are fully present and mindful.
So what do you say? Let’s eat!
Who is Carla Wyatt?
- Nutrition Coach at 2.0 Next Level Fitness
- Registered Nurse– with honors from UW School of Nursing in 2000.
- Clinic Nurse/Nutrition Educator/Biofeedback Therapist at Pacific Rehabilitation Centers since 2006; working with chronic pain patients.
- Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies
- Eat To Perform Nutrition Coach Certification