Mindfulness Made Easy – Practice #4 Eat Mindfully

Here is the fourth of my 50 Mindful Practices  from my upcoming book. Please sign up for my weekly emails if you want to get the rest automatically in your email box. I welcome your feedback and please pass along to your friends!


Practice 4: Eat Mindfully 

“We depend on food to survive. Only oxygen and water are more critical. Since preparing and eating food is such an essential component of our lives, why not bring mindful awareness to this?” Stahl and Goldstein

What it is. The speed at which we eat in Western society is shocking. Some meals at our house are finished in less than ten minutes. Not only is this bad for digestion, but we barely taste what we eat or savor it.  We miss out on the simple pleasure of eating but also miss out on the information emanating from our body as we chew and swallow. We don’t notice our taste buds, our throat constricting or our stomach. We don’t know whether we are full or still hungry.

In the popular “Mind Up”  program created by actor Goldie Hawn,  elementary school students are asked to use words to describe the various tastes they sense when they are eating. They describe foods as either  bitter, salty, sweet, sour, tangy, lemony, bland, or sharp. When they use the descriptive words, not only do students slow down, but they become more selective and conscious eaters.

How  to do it. Place a raisin in your hand. Look closely at the raisin and notice its shape, color and texture. Smell the raisin. Take your time.  Now place the raisin on your tongue. Do not bite it right way. Just roll it around in your mouth and feels its bumps and contours. Notice that your mouth is salivating. Notice the urge to bite and swallow. Slowly bite down into the raisin and feel your teeth and jaw pressing down. Notice the burst of taste in your mouth and where on your tongue the taste is registeringRoll it to the back of your tongue and swallow. Sense it going down your esophagus. Breathe deeply and reflect on how it felt.

What to notice. How is eating in this way different than how you eat on a regular basis? Most people says its the first time they really tasted a raisin.  Also, when engaged in this way you might notice that your mind does not wander elsewhere. You have the pleasure of doing only one thing with complete attention, free from other distracting thoughts.

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