While our food choices are often motivated by flavor and sensory appeal, we rarely engage our senses during meals. Mindful eating offers the opportunity to truly appreciate your meal.
Do you taste your food? Taste, smell, texture, and color all play important roles in the overall enjoyment of a meal. But we are rarely mindful enough to truly engage our senses. And the awful feelings of guilt and deprivation that often go hand-in-hand with an eating experience can make enjoying a meal seem impossible.
The simple act of tasting your food may be the key to appreciating and enjoying your next meal. No more guilt or “good” and “bad” foods. Find the space to be present and to engage your senses and you’ll be amazed at how joyful your eating experience will become.
If you want to have a healthy relationship with food, start by focusing on the realreason you eat: to nourish your body. This simple intention helps push out less healthy options without the need to completely eliminate them.
Then, connect with your “why.” Say you’re about to dive into a pint of ice cream. Take a minute to breathe, and think about why. Are you stressed, anxious, bummed out, or hungry? Simply craving a treat? No matter the reason, be aware of it. This is a great time to remind yourself to nurture your emotions instead of feeding them.
The next step is savoring each bite. The word savor encourages your to engage all of your senses and to eat each meal mindfully. Let’s use that ice cream as an example:
- Gratitude check. Why did you choose the ice cream? Probably because tastes great, right? Be grateful that you have the opportunity to enjoy this delicious treat, or any other food for that matter. Maybe you consider the source of the food or the hard working hands that create it. Gratitude provides a positive shift in your emotions that truly sets the stage for a joyful eating experience.
- Inhale. Chocolaty goodness! (Assuming your ice cream is of a chocolaty variety). Aroma is a powerful sense that can evoke feel-good emotions. Smell and taste are fundamentally inter-related. Your food would taste very different if you couldn’t smell it. Hold your nose and give it a try. By engaging your sense of smell you offer yourself the opportunity to appreciate the food prior to even tasting it. Win!
- Savor. The heart of mindful eating, this is the moment you have been waiting for—and the first bite is often the best. Take a spoonful of ice cream and slowly churn it around in your mouth. Notice the temperature. Bring your awareness to the texture. Pause and truly taste the spoonful. What do you love about it? Are the flavors changing as it melts in your mouth? Pause and reflect on the beauty of that bite before you move on to the next.
Sure, you can shovel through a pint of ice cream without tasting a single bite. Eating mindfully, though—tasting your food and savoring each bite—rewards you with a more robust, positive eating experience. And you’re far less likely to overindulge. Go ahead, give it a try.