Mindful eating can both help you to build up your mindfulness meditation skills, and help you to eat a healthier diet. Try this simple exercise to promote mindful eating, adapted from Thich Nhat Hahn's book Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life (Bantam, 1992).
Time Required: 15-30 minutes
- Choose a time and place for eating that promotes mindful eating. Try eating in a quiet, distraction-free environment. This means no eating in front of the television.
- Before you begin eating, look down at your food. Take in what it looks like, how it smells, and think about where it came from. See if you can notice the urge to eat (e.g., your mouth watering, the feeling of hunger), before you take a bite.
- Put a bite in your mouth. Notice how the food feels in your mouth and what it tastes like. Before you swallow, notice the things that happen in your mouth when you put food in. Notice how you salivate, notice the urge to swallow, notice the sensation of chewing.
- As you swallow your food, notice what that feels like. How does your stomach feel now that it is one bite fuller?
- Repeat your mindful eating for each bite until your meal is finished. Try to decide when the meal is finished based on the sensations in your body (e.g., the feeling of fullness in your belly, no more sensation of hunger) rather than on whether your plate is clean.
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