Dr. Heather McKee's Evidence Based Insights
Mindful eating practice, chocolate required!
In the last post we discussed the evidence on the effectiveness of mindful eating in helping you resist temptation and get more enjoyment from your food. In this post we are going to look at a specific example of how to do a mindful eating practice. This mindful eating practice is particularly useful this time of year, when temptations are even more prevalent than normal.
Before you get started I suggest you find somewhere quiet to perform the mindful eating practice below, away from noise or distractions.
How to prepare for your mindful eating practice:
- Find a snack you like, I have suggested chocolate (because that’s a snack I like!) but the snack you choose is dependent on what you enjoy most
- Try and base your snack on something that you regularly find yourself snacking on (me = chocolate!)
- Preferably choose something with a wrapper. Unwrapping it can be part of the process
- Please follow the steps set out in the mindful eating practice below as slowly as possible.
This may feel strange or unnatural, but I encourage you to go with it. The purpose of this mindful eating practice is to emphasise how different eating mindfully is from everyday eating.
Mindful eating practice:
- Notice the weight of a piece of chocolate (or chosen snack) in your hand.
- Look at it closely.
- Observe the shape and colour. Use at least three words to describe it to yourself.
- As you unwrap it, listen closely to the crinkle of the foil or paper.
- Take time to look at the chocolate as if you were looking at it for the first time.
- Let your eyes wander over it.
- Do any critical thoughts come up, “I shouldn’t eat this”? If so, let the thoughts come and go as if you are letting go of a balloon.
- Place the chocolate in your mouth. Notice the flavour, richness, and texture.
- Pay attention to how the sensations change as it melts and moulds to your mouth.
- Follow the sensations as the snack slips down your throat into your stomach.
- Pause and take time to savour the lingering flavours.
Once you have completed your mindful eating practice take a minute to reflect on how it went for you.
- How did it make you feel?
- Did you enjoy it more or did it not taste as nice as you imagined?
- Would you want to eat another snack in the same way? Did you feel a sense of impatience that you must hurry up?
These feelings are all normal responses to this exercise.
Examining what came up for you is important as each person experiences this exercise differently. For example, for me, doing a mindful eating practice helped me realise that I often eat food without really tasting it, maybe whilst chatting, or working, or doing something else. Taking the time to slow down and savour every bit of it was hard. I am so used to having multiple things going on, that paying attention to the chocolate alone made me impatient. However in slowing down, I also found that I didn’t want to eat as much of the snack as normal. This is perhaps due to the fact that I was savouring it more or that I found slowing down a bit boring! It could also be, as shown physiologically, mastication (chewing more) indicates to your brain that you are full. Which is why it is believed that the more you mindfully attend to your food, the more likely you are to feel fuller with less food.
If you found the mindful eating practice useful, think about how could you apply this mindful eating practice to your habits this week? For some people they may want to apply this when having a snack or when out socialising. For others they may want to practice this for one meal such as breakfast. You can also take a look back at the top 5 mindful eating tips discussed last week, are there any of these that you could adopt this week?
If you really enjoyed the above mindful eating practice I would highly recommend taking part in Darya Rose’s 5 day Mindful Eating Challenge. Darya Rose’s Foodist blog is a fantastic (and evidence based) resource on finding balance in your healthy lifestyle.
In the next post, we will be sharing why self-care shouldn’t be seen as selfish and some top Christmas pressies you can buy for yourself that will help you stick with your healthy habits in 2018.
Christmas is a challenging time in terms of sticking with your healthy goals, how do you still enjoy all the season brings yet not fell like you have completely derailed all your healthy practices this far?!
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