What is Mindful Eating?

How often do we chug down a bag of potato chips in front of TV without knowing it until afterwards?  :)  


Mindful eating starts with a pause.  When you feel hungry and you're about to open the fridge door looking for food,  try taking 3 deep breaths.  This is our pause.   


After the pause, we ask ourselves "Am I truly hungry?"  When we are sleepy, thirty, bored, or anxious, we can feel hungry too.   


If the answer is "No, I'm just bored."  Then perhaps go out for a walk, or read a book, or do something to take care of the temporary boredom. 


If you are sleepy, maybe it's time to go to bed instead of eating.  It is true that we feel hungry when we are sleep deprived.  So the best thing is simply going to bed.    


If you are anxious, eating will not solve the problem.  It may make us feel worse afterwards.   Perhaps, prolonging our mindfulness practice at this time may help.   Try sitting with the feeling of anxiety or whatever sensation that is arising, and see what comes up.   Feel the sensations in your body if possible.  Inquire deeply what am I truly yearning for?     Relax your body and mind.  Take a few belly breaths.   There is no judgment or blame.  Simply witness the sensations from the  seat of observation.  Perhaps give yourself some compassion.  This cannot be easy for anyone.  We all share these experiences.  All of us. Give yourself some space and compassion.  Allow these sensations to be here.  Wait and watch.   Be with whatever arises.   Relax and breathe....  


And see what happens....


Sometimes this method may help,  sometimes it may not.   Whatever it is, let it be okay.  Please do not judge yourself further with guilt and shame.  Try to embody mindfulness again and again. Bring awareness to whatever that is arising. Most importantly, please be kind to yourself.  It is okay.  





If the answer is Yes, I'm truly hungry. My body needs food.   Then our 2nd inquiry is: "Is the food I am about to eat healthy for my body?" 


Too often we pick the most convenient option which may also be the unhealthiest choice.  We all know intuitively which food choices are better for us, and which are not.    When we slow down to inquire, we make better decisions for ourselves.    


Once we have chosen the food we are about to eat,  sit down and eat.  Don't watch TV while you eat.  Turn your phone off.  Peaceful music in the background may be a good option if it helps you to relax. 


Think of how fortunate we are that we no longer have to hunt or kill in order to survive.   Let's use our 5 senses to appreciate the food sitting in front of us. 


Before we take the first bite...  


What does our meal look like?  What's on the plate?  What are the colors?  Simply appreciate its existence.  


What does our food smell like?  Use your nose to smell the wonderful food sitting in front of you.  


When you start eating, chew each bite slowly.  Listen to the sounds.  Feel the sensation of chewing in your mouth. Realizing the effortless  work done by your jaw and teeth to make this movement possible.   



Taste the different flavors - Is it sweet?   Is it savory?  Or perhaps spicy?  Can I taste any herb flavors?  What is the texture like?  Is it crunchy?  Or smooth? Maybe both.   What's the temperature like?  Is it warm?  Or cold?  Without judging anything "good" or "bad," simply be aware of your senses to enjoy this eating experience.  


We can also be grateful for our food.  We can say a Thank You or feel a sense of appreciation while we eat.  How lucky are we that we have easy access to food in this modern living?     


We can also deepen our eating experience by inquiring further.  We can look at the each food item on our plate, and think of its origin and history.  For example, where do you think the broccoli on your plate came from? ..... What did the landscape look like? ....  How much sun and water did it take to grow? .....  How many months did it take before fully grown?....  Who grew them?.... How did it get to my plate?...  How many farmers, truck drivers and grocery workers did it take to make this journey possible?  What are their names and faces?  Do they have any children?      


It is truly amazing to know how we are all inter-connected, even with a simple daily act - eating - if we are mindful enough.    


Each eating experience should be an opportunity to slow down and enjoy our human living existence.  


We are truly grateful.  


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