Practicing Mindful Eating

July 15, 2008

One way to practice mindful eating is to pay attention to each sensation during eating, such as chewing, tasting, and swallowing. This allows you to slow down your eating and focus on your food. It also allows you to listen to your body’s needs.  Here is an exercise that you can do alone or with a friend. You will both need a slice of apple.  One person reads the instructions below while the other person does the exercise.

  1. Take one bite of an apple slice and then close your eyes. Do not begin chewing yet.
  2. Try not to pay attention to the ides running through your mind, just focus on the apple. Notice anything that comes to mind about taste, texture, temperature and sensation going on in your mouth.
  3. Begin chewing now.  Chew slowly, just noticing what it feels like. It’s normal that your mind will wander off. If you notice you’re paying more attention to your thinking than to the chewing, just let go of the thought for the moment and come back to the chewing.
  4. In these moments you find yourself wanting to swallow the apple. See if ou can stay present and notice the subtle transition from chewing to swallowing.
  5. As you prepare to swallow the apple, try to follow it moving toward the back of your tongue and into your throat. Swallow the apple, following it until you can no longer feel any sensation of the food remaining.
  6. Take a deep breath and exhale.

The point of this exercise is not to suggest that all your meals should be consumed in this way. Instead, it may help you to realize your own eating habits. Do you eat too fast and barely taste the food in your mouth? Maybe you eat too quickly and end up feeling sick due to overeating? Some people find this technique helpful to do at the first bite of the meal in order to set the tone for the rest of the meal. Try and see how it feels for you!

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