Eating is a naturally pleasurable and rewarding experience. A practice of savoring what we eat can help our brain recognize other pleasurable experiences throughout the day. Notice! - that our stomach and body very much want to weigh in on what we eat not just our tongue and throat. Eating is meant to be pleasurable, not only from the neck up, but the neck down, and from the beginning to end, meaning that even hours later the body should feel revitalized and energized by how we nourish it. Even noticing the way our body eliminates what we eat needs to have a significant impact on our choices. Here are five simple steps to mindful eating:
E --Exercise presence (take a minute to anchor first)
N --Notice where the food came from and how it got here
J --Joyfully eat, using all five senses and savoring
O --Observe the body--from beginning to end (tongue to tummy), noticing thoughts and emotions as well
Y --Why/(Y)! Ask yourself --what is my why for nourishing my body?
E - EXERCISE PRESENCE by taking a minute to anchor in breath and body before eating especially bringing awareness to your hunger level before starting to eat. While you eat, each time you become aware that the mind is wandering, bring it back to the experience.
N - NOTICE where the food came from, how did it grow and arrive here, who prepared it? Grace is a popular meal time practice, and so taking a minute to cultivate awareness and an attitude of gratitude for what is before you is a great way to start a meal in a mindful way.
J - JOYFULLY EAT-using all relevant senses as you eat. Take the meal in visually, noticing colors, textures, sizes, shapes. How does the food smell? If it is a finger food, notice how it feels in your hands--cold, wet, soft, solid, etc. Finally, how does it taste? Really savoring the food as you eat noticing textures, flavors, etc. from start to finish--noticing too--how does the taste and sensory experience evolve or change as I eat?
O - OBSERVE THE EXPERIENCE from beginning to end (tongue to tummy). How does the taste change as I eat and how does my stomach and body feel as I eat? Are there any emotions present as I eat? What do I notice about my thoughts and beliefs throughout the experience?
Y - WHY/(Y) What is my why for nourishing my body? How will what and how I eat today help me later today, tomorrow, and in the future to be my best self and achieve my why(s)?
The most important part of this exercise is to be non-judgemental, have fun with it...and practice, practice, practice! Forgive yourself for times you eat mind-LESS-ly and move on fully. No one benefits from a healthy serving of guilt after each meal. Every time we behave less than we wanted to we can learn from it and grow. Every moment is a brand new one to start over. Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in. Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely. This new day is too dear to waste a moment on the yesterdays.” Just like each day is a new day, each meal is a new one as well. Finish each one and be done with it. Begin the next meal “well and serenely.” As we care for and nourish our body, remember that each meal is “too dear to waste” by fearing and fretting past mistakes.