Don’t worry, this article doesn’t bring up aliens and raisins again. It's about ways to build mindfulness around food into your everyday life.After describing the details of mindfulness & nutrition in my previous articles (part 1 & part 2), I figured you might like some practical examples and exercises to try.
Focus intently on the first two bites of a meal, no matter where you are. This is also a great way to simply bring mindfulness into your busy everyday life. So even when you go out to eat or are grabbing lunch in the cafeteria or breakroom, take a moment to concentrate on your breathing, consciously inhaling and exhaling once or twice.
When you find yourself wanting to eat, pause and ask yourself a few questions.
What do I need right now? Do I feel hungry? Am I feeling stressed?
Do I want to relieve some sort of tension? If so, how does the tension feel? Can I assign a feeling to it? Do I care how I’m feeling right now? If not, why not? What would happen if I rested for a few minutes? Or if I took a short walk? If I do eat something, can I enjoy it and do it mindfully?
Start small! Eat mindfully just one meal a day. If possible, decide which one in advance. Bonus points if you choose a meal where you’ll have a pleasant atmosphere without distractions such as music, television or too much hustle and bustle in the area. Take your time and pay attention to taste, smell, consistency, temperature, the aroma of the food. In the beginning, eat as quietly as possible to increase your concentration and perception. It sounds like a lot, but doing this probably won’t take more than 15 to 20 minutes.
Mindfulness & nutrition diary
Another tip is to keep a mindfulness & nutrition diary for a little while. For example, these questions can give you a great place to start.
- Did you eat carefully and at a reasonable pace?
- What thoughts did you notice while eating?
- Did you have any particularly pleasant (or unpleasant) feelings that you noticed?
- Did you feel satisfied after the meal? How was your energy level?
- Did you enjoy your meal?
- Did you eat alone, or with company?
- Were there any automatic thoughts about your food?
- What feelings did you notice?
- How long did you spend eating?
- Did you feel satisfied?
- How big were your portions?
- Did you notice any distractions during your meal?
- What was there atmosphere where you ate?
- Did you appreciate and enjoy your meal?
- Did you feel satisfied?
These are just a few thoughts and ideas to help you put everything we’ve talked about into practice. With that, be proud of your new approach to eating mindfully and above all, enjoy the food!
- How are you feeling right now?
- Do you need food, or is there something else driving your craving?