1) Choose a time when you would normally eat a meal or a snack. Practice bringing kindness to yourself, mindful openness and curiosity to the practice of mindful eating.
2) Before eating, bring awareness to your body and your breathing. Let your belly be soft and full. Take three full deep breaths. Let the breath relax you and help you settle into the present moment. Start by checking in to see how hungry you are. Explore what hunger feels like in the belly, noticing its pleasant and unpleasant qualities. Notice the sensations in the mouth and in the belly that occur with the mere thought of eating.
3) If you haven’t chosen food to eat yet, check in to see what would taste good right now. Can you get a sense of what the body would like to eat, or what tastes would be pleasing to you? Once you have your food in front of you, take some time to assess it. What does it look like? What is the color and shape? Where did it come from? How nourishing do you think it is? What does it smell like? Acknowledge the importance of food for your body’s health.
If you eat more than enough, or feel too full, know that you have not blown it, but that you are simply now aware of this fullness. It takes time to learn new ways of eating. Every time you eat is a time to practice again.
4) When you eat, can you take your time? You can slow down by chewing your food thoroughly and by putting down your fork or spoon between bites. Watch any distractions or thoughts, let them come and go. Keep coming back to the sensations involved in eating and tasting.
5) As you eat, notice whether you are enjoying the food or not. Focus on the sensations of taste—sweet, sour, salty, pungent. Keep coming back to the taste of your food. If you notice you aren’t enjoying it, can you stop eating? If you enjoy it, how present are you for the pleasure of the experience. Savor your food.
6) Throughout the meal, notice how your hunger level moves toward feeling satisfied. Particularly half-way through, stop and assess where your hunger level is again. If you’re hungry, continue to eat. But if you notice a sense of satisfaction, stop. Notice if it is difficult to stop at this point and inquire as to why. Give yourself permission to stop, even if there is some food left on the plate. Remind yourself that you can always have more later.
7) What thoughts and emotions are present as you eat and as you decide to stop? What beliefs and stories do you tell yourself about food and eating?
8) Be present for the last bite as fully as you were for the first bite. And if you eat more than enough, or feel too full, know that you have not blown it, but that you are simply now aware of this fullness. It takes time to learn new ways of eating. Every time you eat is a time to practice again.
The Center for Mindful Eating will be holding their annual International Mindful Eating Day on January 26, 2017. To learn more and complete your free registration, visit: http://thecenterformindfuleating.org/Mindful-Eating-Day-2017
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