I recently had the opportunity to join some colleagues in attending “Mindfulness in Motion: A Daily Stress Reduction Program” by Maryanna Klatt, PhD, RYT, Ohio State University. One of the eight sessions was a Mindful Eating Practice. Participants were invited to bring a food item to class and follow the steps of the instructor to slowly observe and enjoy eating the food. Mindful eating takes into account that how we eat is as important as what we eat. If we are in the habit of rushing meals and just eating food for the sake of eating, are we missing something?
Although we might first think of taste as the most important sense for eating food, taste is only one of our five senses. The senses of taste and smell complement one another well. The sense of sight is also important in food, especially in the presentation of food. Enjoy the different colors of food and the indication the color gives us about freshness and taste. Can you hear food? Listen to the sizzle of a hot dish, the crunch of a fresh vegetables or the clink of ice against a glass of a cold drink. Those sounds also go along with the feel of the food. Mindful eating focuses on the feel of the food in your mouth. What is the temperature? What is the texture? What is the tasty flavor that goes along with all the other senses?
The opposite of mindful eating is mindless eating or distracted eating. In an article “Mindful Verses Mindless Eating” at www.extension.org Carolyn Dunn, PhD, NC State University asked, “Have you ever looked down at a bag of chips you were eating and wondered where the chips went? You don’t remember eating that many chips, yet they are gone. You don’t even remember if the chips tasted good or not”. Too often, it is easy to engage in mindless eating, sometimes just because the food is there.
Mindful eating is the reminder to slow down, experience and enjoy the food. Try it! The next time you sit down to enjoy a snack or meal, try some mindfulness practices to enhance the experience.
- Remove distractions (like the television) and focus on the entire eating experience
- Use all your senses to enjoy the snack or meal
- Become aware of your feelings of hunger and fullness
- Know that there are not wrong or right ways to eat but there are ways to be more fully aware of eating
Author: Patrice Powers-Barker, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension