Mindful eating: what is mindful eating, and why is it important?
Updated: Jan 24
Mindfulness can sound a little complicated and abstract sometimes. It is paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity and without judgement, often using our senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing. It is linked to increased resilience, improved memory, focus and concentration, emotional regulation and self-compassion amongst many other things. Mindfulness can be formal and informal. Mindful eating is well researched, and it has been shown to reduce consumption, increase awareness of satiety (feeling full), increased control over eating habits and increased enjoyment. Often, we tend to multitask, for example, watching television while having a conversation and eating dinner. In this example, we are eating mindlessly and not truly engaged with the food that is being consumed. In a nutshell, mindful eating is about eating slowly without distraction
Mindful eating: the chocolate meditation (yes chocolate!!)
Choose some chocolate that you like but isn't something that you eat all of the time. For example, it could be a different brand or a different flavour. I personally do this with dark chocolate, but I know this isn't to everybody's taste. If you don't like chocolate, you can choose something else; perhaps raisins or an orange or something that isn't going to disappear within a couple of seconds, such as a flying saucer sweet. Now that brings back some childhood memories.
· Pick up the chocolate and notice the wrapper with a little bit more attention than usual.
· Open up the packet and inhale the aroma. Really notice those smells and take some time to look at it, really look at it, be curious and examine every part of it.
· Put it into your mouth and see if you can hold it on your tongue and allow it to melt. You are likely going to want to bite it. See if you can sense some of the different flavour’s, chocolate has over 100 different flavours.
· If you notice your mind wandering, which is very likely, notice where it went and then gently bring your mind back to the present moment.
· Once the chocolate has melted, slowly swallow the chocolate and allow it to trickle down your throat.
What did you notice? Try this next time you eat a snack or a meal. A top tip for slowing down eating is to put your knife and fork down in between bites and let go of them. People are often getting the next bite ready before the food in their mouth is anywhere near being thoroughly chewed. Further mindfulness practice can lead to: distinguishing between real hunger and non-hunger triggers (craving or emotional avoidance), learning to identify and let go of guilt and anxiety about food and eating, appreciating food and noticing the impact that different foods have on feelings.
At CBT for the Diet Trap we cover this in further detail during our 8-week course.