Chew On This (Hopefully Not Your Cheek!) – and Other Mindful Eating Perplexities
Have you ever taken a good strong CHOMP on your cheek as you chewed up your dinner? Did it hurt a lot? Did you say, “OUCH, how did that happen? I must not have been paying attention to my eating!.”
When you hear “Mindful Eating”, do you wonder what in the world it means? I certainly did. For me, mindfulness and eating did NOT go together for a very long time as I struggled to find a healthy connection between mind and body. Today, it’s not perfect (I’m not perfect), but I am much more aware of how to utilize mindful eating in my daily life and it has helped me to ENJOY eating so much more! Whatever your relationship to food or eating is, these mindful eating tips can by fun to try. Did you know how tuned out we can be to the exercise of chewing (and how complex a process it is?). There can be so many benefits to slowing down the process of eating.
- not overeating
- learning to notice your body’s fullness and hunger levels and signals
- enjoying the pleasure of eating delicious food
- being aware of your environment so as to drink in the sights, sounds, and perhaps company you keep as you eat
- explore new foods and find ones you truly love (and some that you might not!)
- potential weight loss
- decrease feelings of guilt and shame while increasing feelings of satisfaction and joy
- many more!
Here are five fun activities to try when practicing mindful eating, as adapted from EATING THE MOMENT: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time by Dr. Pavel Somav.
1.)The Admittedly Annoying Thorough Chewing Exercise
One of the commonly overlooked phases of digestion is chewing. Chewing takes time, and time facilitates fullness. Conscious chewing is a good way to slow down eating to give fullness time to emerge. I suggest you study chewing. What side of the mouth do you chew on? What’s your natural average number of chewing motions per bite? What’s it like to have food in the mouth and not chew, just letting it sit there for a moment. How do you decide when you have chewed enough and it’s time to swallow?
2.) Slow Eating Record
Buy a bag of Hershey kisses. Take one out. Stow the rest away. Now that you have only one Hershey kiss, make this kiss last. Make love to it the way you would to the lips of a parting partner. Kiss it good-bye. Let your tongue slow-dance, gradually unlocking the nuances of the flavor. Of course, you can’t always freeze-frame in this type of gusto-sensual reverie when you eat. But, at least, set the record straight: you can slow-eat when you choose to.
3.) Reminiscence Eating
Eating links people, places and things of our pasts, and as such, can be a great way of going down memory lane, on a journey of self-remembering. Reminiscent eating is an opportunity to turn a simple act of eating into an existentially meaningful experience with the added advantage of slowing down the process of eating (and thus giving fullness time to emerge). Next time you eat, look at the food in front of you and allow yourself to free-associate about the past. What does this dish, this smell, this taste remind you of? Give yourself a taste of the past and turn what could have been mechanical and meaningless into sentimental and mindful.
4.) A Cooling Off Period
Think of the times you burnt your lips on a bowl of soup: isn’t it amazing that we are in such a rush to eat we are willing to burn ourselves?! Next time you have a bowl of soup in front of you give it a few moments to cool off. Stir it, mindfully, watching the vortex of colors swirl. Gently blow air on it, unlocking the aroma. Look around. Enjoy the wait, exhale the impatience, chill.
5.) Rest Your Hands Technique
Resting your hands between bites will help you slow down the pace of eating to give fullness time to emerge. Lay down the utensils, rest your hands on the table for 10-20 seconds. No need to keep track of time. Just a simple touch-down of your hands on the tablecloth. If you eat alone, get two tiny touch bells and put them on each side of the dish. When you rest your hands, you’ll hear a ring tone as your hands touch the bells. During the pause, take a breath and listen to the sound fade. Wait to eat another bite until the sound of the bell has faded into silence.
Want To Practice Mindful Eating? Join Us!!
Kate Daigle, MA, NCC, LPC is starting a NEW monthly group, Denver’s Mindful Eating and Mindfulness in the Park Group! Starting this Friday, June 3rd(held the first Friday of every month), we’ll meet in beautiful City Park in Denver, Colorado and join together to have some fun with mindful eating! We’ll begin by taking a short walk around the park, getting into our breath and our bodies. We’ll have a picnic and practice some of the mindful eating exercises listed above and MORE! This casual group is inspired by a need for a community of like-minded folks who desire to create a healthy and healing mind-body connection and truly appreciate the act of eating. We’ll incorporate all of our senses in enriching this experience! More info and SIGN UP!: Mindful Eating Group