Do you mind what you eat? In other words, are you mindful, (awake and aware) of what, how much, when and why you are eating? In these busy and stressful times, many of us are not. We can find ourselves “grabbing something” between meetings, soccer games, or conference calls and what we “grab” is usually quick, easy, or comforting instead of mindful.
Mindful eating is not about dieting or deprivation, but eating with attention and intention. When I give Your Mindful Year to groups and organizations, one of the favorite activities of the participants is the mindful eating exercise.
You can try this mindful eating exercise on your own, by yourself or with your family. You will need one orange per person, (tangerines work best) and 15-20 minutes of quiet and uninterrupted time.
Pick up the orange and close your eyes and feel the texture, the temperature, hardness or softness. Bring it to your nostrils and smell the aroma. Is it pleasant or unpleasant? Does it evoke any memories?
Open your eyes and bring the orange 12 inches from your gaze. Notice the different colors, shadows, and the crevices and indentations. Look at where it attached to the tree. Think about the tree, where did it come from? Who picked it?
Break open the skin at the attachment with your thumbnail and smell. Slowly tear the skin away from the fruit and bring it close to your ear to listen. Remove all the skin.
Study the flesh of the whole fruit in detail. Break the orange in half and listen to the sound of separation. Remove one section and break it open Look at the inside pulp, the flesh, and strings and smell the open section.
Place it on your tongue and move the section in your mouth. Gently bite into it and notice if it is sweet or sour. Chew the section slowly and thoroughly before you swallow it. Eat the whole orange like this, one section at a time.
Talk or write about your experience.
Of course it isn’t realistic to eat every meal with this kind of time and attention, but you can start with this exercise and practice one meal or one snack a week. You can also be more mindful by taking a moment to offer gratitude for your food, slow down, and turn off your television, computer, and cell phone while you eat. Mindful eating allows you to experience tasting, smelling, hearing and savoring your food in a unique way, as shown by these comments:
I never tasted an orange like this before!
I realize now just how mind-less I eat.
I actually got satisfied on a small orange because I slowed down.
WOW. What a wake-up call to fully and mindfully eat something!
I would love to hear about your experiences after you mind your eating.