For most of us, mealtime is just another item in our daily to-do list. And on particularly busy or stressful days, it’s easy to forget to eat altogether.
However, practicing mindful eating can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve your relationship with food, and promote better digestion. Below is a quick mindful eating exercise that you can try the next time you sit down for a meal.
As you sit down at your table, start by taking a few deep breaths. Observe the food on your plate—refraining from any negative judgment. Instead, be curious and ask yourself what this meal means to you. Consider it as that which will nourish you, sustain you, and provide you with energy.
Pick up your utensils mindfully, and harness your senses as you take your first bite. How does the food smell, taste, and feel? Observe any aroma or fragrance emanating from your plate and utensils. Notice the depth of flavors, as well as the layers of heat and temperature. Allow the food to sit on your tongue momentarily, paying attention to the textures you may feel. Chew and swallow with awareness, noticing the movement of your teeth, tongue, and throat.
As you continue to eat, observe yourself. Are you rushing through the meal? Are you taking large, ravenous bites? Do you forget to chew properly? You may take time to put down your utensils, to observe how your stomach is responding. Make each bite purposeful. Take time to breathe. Feel yourself getting fuller, listening to your body and how it communicates with you as you finish your meal.
When you are done with your meal, notice how your body feels. Most importantly, become aware of your thoughts about the meal. If you have thoughts of self-judgment, simply acknowledge them and give gratitude instead. Think about where each ingredient of your meal came from, the plants or animals that nourished you, as well as the people who helped make the meal possible for you. If someone you loved cooked for you, take time to thank that person. If you cooked the meal yourself, feel grateful for having been able to create something.
Try to practice this mindful eating meditation once a day, and notice how it positively impacts your life.