Practice mindful eating to help you be more calm and focussed.
Eating as Meditation is the opposite of mindless eating — it’s a way to practice completely mindfulness, focus, awareness of thoughts and emotions, gratitude for the food we’ve been given.
When we do sitting meditation, we drop all other activities and just sit, paying attention to body and breath, being present with ourselves without expectation or judgment. Food meditation is the same thing, but instead of just sitting, we just eat.
It’s not eating for the point of rapid consumption, or even for the point of sensory pleasure (though that does happen). It’s about slowing down, paying attention to the food, really savouring it, being grateful for where it came from and who prepared it, noticing our emotions as we eat.
The benefits of eating meditation are many:
Food tastes better when you pay attention.
You can learn to enjoy healthy foods when you slow down and savour.
You eat less because you’re not eating mindlessly.
You naturally gravitate towards simpler foods because of the savouring.
You begin to address the emotions around eating.
You get a little oasis of slow mindfulness in your busy day.
It relieves stress.
The Meditation Diet Method
So how do you do it? It’s not very difficult — you can do some or all of the items here:
1. Create space. Too often eating is multitasked with reading or working or driving or watching. Create some space for the eating meditation — clear away everything else, and just do one thing. Just eat.
2. Put your food in front of you, and consider it. The food you choose doesn’t matter — it can be food you already eat on a regular basis, or you can consider a handful of berries, a carrot, some broccoli, some raw almonds or walnuts. Sit down with the food in front of you, and look at it. Notice its colour, texture, imperfections. Smell it.
3. Think about its origins. Take a moment to think about where this food came from — is it from another continent, or somewhere in your area? How did it get to you? Who grew it, picked it, transported it, prepared it? Be grateful for all of this.
4. Taste it. One bite at a time put the food in your mouth and savour its taste and texture. Is it crunchy, soft, chewy, grainy, syrupy? Is it earthy, sweet, floral, salty, spicy, oaky, citrus-y, grassy, herbal, mossy, tangy, tannin-y? Think too about what has been added to the food — chemicals, salt, sugar, fat? How does the food make you feel? Consider what nutrients the food is giving you, how it is nourishing you.
5. Notice your heart. What do you feel as you eat? Are you hungry, stressed, sad, happy, hurt, angry, afraid, confused, lonely, bored, impatient?
6. Pause between bites. Don’t pick up the next bite as you chew. Just stay with one bite, then swallow. Breathe. Enjoy the space. Then repeat the process for the next bite.
7. Practice this once a day. When it becomes a regular habit, try it twice a day. Eventually, do it every time you eat a meal or snack, or have anything to drink.