Eating Mindfully

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Given that today is one of my favorite holidays, but also a day when I and so many others will consume liberal amounts of candy, I thought it appropriate to post an exercise on mindful eating that one can use with candy.It can be done with almost any food, though some say that traditionally the exercise is taught using a raisin (and, believe it or not, it works better if you dislike what you're eating). [I liked this next sentence too much to not include it:] Since it's Halloween, let's bust out the Sour Patch Kids or Milky Way Ghosts or Candy Corn and savor versus inhaling in a zombie-like brainless state! And keep in mind, this can be done any day of the year.

  • SIGHT: Take a long, curious look at the food before you. Notice the colors, the texture. Look at this food like you’ve never seen it before in your life. If you can, hold the food in your hands without touching it and continue inspecting it.

  • TOUCH: Using your fingers, probe the food and notice any different sensations or textures: bumps, smooth areas. Maybe close your eyes and use your non-dominant hand if that enhances your sense of touch.

  • SMELL: Hold the food just below your nose and with each inhale, notice what happens internally in your body, such as salivating, or recalling a memory associated with this smell. Allow the memory or sensation to float by and pass, without dwelling on it.

  • TASTE: Now bring the food to your lips, and notice how your hand and arm know exactly where to position it. Gently place the object into your mouth without chewing, maintaining full awareness of your teeth and jaw opening. Without chewing, roll and swirl the food around in your mouth, noticing how different the texture feels from when it was in your hand. When you’re ready, take one or two sloooow bites, experiencing any waves of taste that occur as you chew. Continue chewing slowly and mindfully, detecting any changes in taste and texture. When you feel ready to swallow, see if you can first detect the intention to swallow as it comes up, so that even this is experienced consciously before you actually swallow the food.

  • HEAR: As you touch the food and as you eat it, can you hear anything? Perhaps the sound of yourself chewing or swallowing, or maybe the food has a distinct crunch to it.

  • EXPERIENCE: See if you can feel any sensations of the food working its way to your stomach. Check in with yourself. How does it feel to have eaten mindfully?

Now resist the urge to plow through the rest of your bag o' treats and continue to savor each piece mindfully. Bonus points if you're eating organic candies, and double bonus if you're eating a healthy chocolate bar like Not Your Sugar Mamas!

Have a safe and Happy Halloween, everyone!

- S