Have you ever sat down to dinner, turned on the TV, and realized you finished eating without even thinking about your food?
You are not alone. As a self-proclaimed foodie, I want better for you than this. I hope you savor every bite — and nourish your body and your mind — whenever you’re eating.
Without intentional thought, your meals become part of the daily routine… more of a means to an end instead of an experience. But you can use your meals as part of your mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation where you focus on your life’s micro-moments, such as your meal. When you practice this intentional focus, you retrain your mind to stop bouncing from one random thought to another.
Instead, your mind focuses on what you choose.
With regards to mindful eating, you not only make your meal an experience, but you also draw awareness to what you’re eating and how you feel about it. With mindfulness, your meals may feel more satisfying and nourishing.
And, since you are practicing a form of meditation, you will also reap the benefits of improving your emotional response, decreasing stress, and feeling genuinely present. You’ll be immersed in the entire dining experience instead wondering where your sandwich went and whether you enjoyed it.
3 Steps to Mindful Meals
1. Describe four things you see.
2. Describe three smells.
3. Describe two things you notice about the taste or texture.
Let’s see these steps in action using one of my favorite breakfasts: eggs, potatoes, avocado, and fruit.
First, I may notice the bright yellow egg yolks, the perfectly ripe avocado, the thicker-than-usual potatoes, and a beautiful mix of colors in my fruit.
Next, I smell something that is sweet, salty, and savory.
Then, my first bite of fruit bursts juice into my mouth, and it tastes both tart and sweet at the same time.
That’s it! Your presence and awareness made your breakfast more mindful.
Now maybe you’re having so much fun that you continue this throughout your meal, or perhaps you decide that this is enough for today. Either way, notice how this was different from other times you’ve eaten — perhaps even from other times you had that same meal.
Awareness is the most powerful piece of mindfulness and meditation. It allows us to notice and choose to take action or not, depending on how we feel.
So, if you practice this activity and recognize you don’t actually like some of the food you’re eating, you can decide whether that matters to you and how to switch up your choices. It might lead to you experimenting with new flavors or finding fun substitutes for your staples.
Overall, remember that mindful meals can connect you to the present moment — and yourself — with a couple of intentional observations. Be present, aware, and make the most out of every moment!