Mindful Eating: Defining, Demystifying and Determining Practical Applications, Part 2by Lisa Diers, R.D., L.D., E-R.Y.T.
The last time we “met” we explored the definitions of mindfulness and mindful eating. You may have even noticed an increase in your level of awareness during the selection, preparation and consumption of your meals. How was it to notice your breath, possibly inviting in a deeper one? Was bringing awareness to your feet touching the ground accessible to you? What happened?
Next, we will we “de-mystify,” so to speak, mindful eating. Mindful eating is an ancient practice and typically involves rituals from the growing, selection, preparation, consumption, and cleaning of the eating experience. It may sound overwhelming, but if you can break it down, you may begin to see that engaging in mindful practices of eating from “selection to table” can help deepen the connection you have to your food, your intention behind eating it, and how that may or may not align with your balanced self.
Today we will focus on increasing your awareness during the eating experience. No matter where you are in your relationship to food, this practice will result in a heightened awareness of how busy your mind is or how intense certain emotions feel. This is a very common and normal experience of a mindfulness practice. When you are quiet and more aware, you are less distracted from and more connected to these things. Take a second to consider if this is the right time for you to practice mindful eating. You may try all, some, or none of these below. Adapt this practice to the degree that makes sense for you.
Consider the following one or more times a week:
a. Set the table. Napkin, silverware, plate, bowl, glass...Whatever you need for your meal. Invite thoughtful intention toward the selection of the tools you’ll need to help you consume your meal.
b. Sit down and take a moment to give thanks or appreciation for the meal you are about to consume and/or set an intention for your meal; some examples:
- I am thankful to have food to eat. Or I am thankful for the people around me to share this experience with or to be alone...
- My intention is to slow down, speed up; feed my body with compassion; notice unhelpful thoughts or impulses as they arise...
c. Notice the places where your feet touch the support beneath them and where they do not. “Will I benefit from more or less connection? “
d. Invite in a deep inhale and long exhale breath
e. Pause and bring awareness to the food on your plate. Colors, textures, aroma.
f. Eat in silence for 1-3 minutes. Tasting your food and bringing a gentle curiosity to what arises in the mind when external silence is present.
Consider reflecting on this experience. Journal if that is helpful in collecting your thoughts. If it applies, maybe you bring this information into your therapy and dietitian session. Maybe you see what you learn about yourself, practicing being “curious, not furious.” Each time you practice mindfulness you engage in the art of opposing suppression and avoidance and opening to compassion, true choice, and your inner wisdom.
About the Author
Lisa is The Emily Program's Director of Nutrition and Yoga Services. Lisa oversees the national operations of both nutrition and yoga departments, which includes the direction and oversite of the clinical practices for 65+ nutrition staff and 20+ yoga instructors. She has over 10 years of eating disorder specific experience in yoga instruction, clinical nutrition counseling and program development. Lisa draws from her deep knowledge base of nutrition, yoga, body image and eating disorder treatment to meet clients' physical and emotional needs. She develops and conducts national eating disorder and body image sensitive yoga trainings and is also a regular blogger on nutrition, yoga and body image; a published author (articles, book chapters and published research); and continues to conduct research to better understand the role of yoga and nutrition in eating disorder recovery.