What is mindful eating: easy techniques, benefit, exercise
Explore the sensations you get from mindful eating to keep your mind in the present moment. If you’ve never formally meditated before, this mindful eating exercise is a really useful place to start.
What is mindful eating
This article explains what mindful eating is, how it works, and what you need to do to get started.
Mindful eating is about using mindfulness to reach a state of full attention to your experiences, cravings, and physical cues when eating.
Fundamentally, mindful eating involves:
- eating slowly and without distraction.
- listening to physical hunger cues and eating only until you’re full.
- distinguishing between true hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating.
- engaging your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds, textures, and flavors.
- learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food.
- eating to maintain overall health and well-being.
- noticing the effects food has on your feelings and figure.
- appreciating your food.
These things allow you to replace automatic thoughts and reactions with more conscious, healthier responses.
How to practice mindful eating,
Many of us are daunted by the prospect of emptying our minds, but this exercise is designed to offer you plenty of opportunities to focus your mind on the present moment.
Used as an introduction to meditation in his mindfulness-based stress reduction program, using a raisin to explore the sensations of eating,
but you can choose any small piece of food you like – however, the texture and intensity of taste in a raisin make it an ideal choice. The exercise will only take about five minutes, but you still need to do it at a time when you won’t be disturbed.
The mindful eating techniques
Take a few moments to center yourself. Gently close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath. Without actively trying to change anything, allow your breath to settle naturally and deepen.
When you’re ready to begin, open your eyes and look at the raisin as if you’ve never seen one before.
The raisin exercise is the perfect introduction to mindful eating.
After a few moments, place it in the palm of your hand or hold it in between your finger and thumb. Keep looking. Be curious. Notice the way the skin folds in on itself, the varying textures and shades, the wiggly patterns.
Observe how the light falls on it, creating highlights on the creases and shadows in the crevices. Give the raisin your complete attention, turning it round to see the back, the sides, the top.
If you find yourself thinking, ‘What on earth am I doing?’ or ‘This is a waste of time’, acknowledge the words as thoughts, perhaps saying the word ‘thinking’, and then return to your observations.
Carefully, bring the raisin to your nose and, as you breathe in, become aware of anything you notice. Does the raisin have an odor?.
Then bring it to your ear and move it around between your fingers. Do you notice any sound? Does the sound change if you alter the pressure between your fingers?
Slowly bring the raisin to your mouth. You could try this with your eyes closed and, if so, notice how your hand knows exactly where to go to take the raisin to your lips.
Is there any reaction in your mouth as you bring the raisin towards it? Next, gently place the raisin on your tongue and close your mouth. Without doing anything, not yet chewing, become aware of the sensations happening in your mouth.
Again, without chewing, move the raisin around your mouth with your tongue. What do you notice? When you’re ready, consciously bite into the raisin, What sensations do you feel?
Slowly chew the raisin, noticing how it changes in your mouth, and any accompanying thoughts you have. When you’re ready to swallow the raisin, pause for a moment, and consciously slow down the impulse. What sensations do you feel-
- Can you sense where the swallowing movement wants to begin?
- Can you trace the pattern of muscle activity as you swallow?
- Do you feel the raisin traveling down your throat?
- or if you feel any difference in your stomach or lower belly?
- Can you sense any difference in being one raisin heavier?
See if you can notice any sensation in your mouth once it is empty once more, Continue to sit for a few moments to allow your body to absorb the effects of the exercise. Then, when you’re ready, gently return to your day, allowing some of the mindful stillness you have encountered to stay with you.
How to work with mindful eating exercise
This is a great introduction to mindful eating, and you might like to repeat this exercise a few times, Explore different tastes and textures by choosing a different food each time you do the exercise.
- perhaps using a raisin each time, so you can observe how your sensitivity develops with experience.
- You could also explore different tastes and textures by choosing different food each time you do the exercise.
- To take mindful eating into your everyday life, you might like to make a commitment to take one mindful bite each day or at every meal.
- As you feel ready, and time permits, you could increase this to include one snack a day or one meal a day.
- Gradually, over time, you’ll learn to become more mindful in your eating and won’t need to eat so slowly to appreciate the multitude of sensations you experience while eating.
- After a time, you can use the sensitivity you develop to decide what to eat.
- Before you chose what to buy for your lunch or prepare for supper, tune in to your mouth and body, and ask it what it really needs to eat.
It’s well known that most weight loss mindful eating programs don’t work in the long term.
- Around 85% of people with obesity who lose weight return to or exceed their initial weight within a few years.
- Binge eating, emotional eating, external eating, and eating in response to food cravings have been linked to weight gain and weight regain after successful weight loss.
- Chronic exposure to stress may also play a large role in overeating and obesity.
- The vast majority of studies agree that mindful eating helps you lose weight by changing your eating behaviors and reducing stress.
- A 6-week group seminar on mindful eating among people with obesity resulted in an average weight loss of 9 pounds (4 kg) during the seminar and the 12-week follow-up period.
- Another 6-month seminar resulted in an average weight loss of 26 pounds (12 kg) — without any weight regain in the following 3 months.
By changing the way you think about food, the negative feelings that may be associated with eating are replaced with awareness, improved self-control, and positive emotions.
When unwanted eating behaviors are addressed, your chances of long-term weight loss success are increased.
Mindful eating is a powerful tool to regain control of your eating. If conventional diets haven’t worked for you, this technique is worth considering.
If you want to give mindful eating a try, you can find many good books on the topic in stores and online.
11 amazing books definitely worth a read-
- Acceptance- and Mindfulness-Based Approaches to Anxiety: amazon
- Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World- amazon
- Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening- amazon
- Meditation for the Love of It: Enjoying Your Own Deepest Experience– amazon
- 30-Minute Anxiety Meditation- amazon
- Chakra Healing: A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Healing Techniques that Balance the Chakras- amazon
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living-amazon
- Meditation: 4 Books in 1-Chakra and Reiki Healing for Beginners,-amazon
- Practical Meditation for Beginners: 10 Days to a Happier, Calmer You-amazon
- Mindfulness Therapy Games: Social Skills Game That Teaches Mindfulness for Kids,-amazon
- Little Book of Mindfulness: 10 minutes a day to less stress, more peace- amazon
That is for now…
here are some other helpful resources to help you make mindful life healthy benefits-
- how to be mindful and 4 mindfulness worksheets
- 10 amazing life changer mindfulness quotes
- How to get started a walking meditation
- 10 amazing health benefits of mindfulness and easy meditation technique
- 5 easy way of Loving Kindness Meditation technique and benefit
- 101 way of Start a mindful breathing well
- 7 ways of mindfulness body scan meditation exercise: benefit
- Walking meditations: with peace is every step
- What is mindful eating: techniques, benefit, exercise
you can join the Mindful Eating Challenge to get you started.