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Mindful Eating

When was the last time you really enjoyed eating a meal? With mindful eating, you make the meal the total focus of your attention. Turn off the TV, put down your magazine or newspaper and take a moment to enjoy your food.

Start by looking at the meal. See how the colors and shapes and textures complement each other. Then smell your food. Close your eyes, and inhale the varied scents. See how they mingle and combine to form a new and unique scent.

Take your first bite. While you are chewing, feel the texture of the food in your mouth. Savor the flavor as it explodes across your tongue or as it gently slides into your mouth.

Look at your plate again and see how removing that bite has shifted the balance among the food on your plate.

Make each bite count and take your time to enjoy the varied flavors, scents, and textures as you add them to your body.

Avoid drinking very much with your meal. It is especially important to avoid large amounts of very cold liquids. These will douse your digestive fires and let the food linger longer in your body. Sip small amounts of room temperature water or red wine with your meal. Don’t wash down your food with big gulps of ice water or other cold liquids. A cup of warm tea is a lovely way to end your meal.

Let’s step back a moment to the time before you sat down for this meal. Before you eat you want to be sure that you really are hungry and not eating just because it is “time to eat”. Where is your breath? If it is in your right nostril your digestive fires are lit. If it is in your left nostril, the digestive fires are banked and you might be eating simply because it is time to eat. See if the right nostril will open before you sit down for your meal. Listen to your body and eat when you are hungry rather than eating at “mealtimes”. You will tend to eat less and enjoy your food more if you eat each time you are hungry.

Check-in with your stomach. Is it really hungry or are you eating to fill another empty place inside? Are you upset, angry, frustrated, lonely, or bored? Any of these emotions can trigger a “need” for food that has nothing to do with needing nourishment. Try to approach mealtime with a quiet mind and open heart.

If you are busy with another task while you eat, you will probably eat more than you need as you might fail to notice the subtle signs your body sends you when it is becoming full. Try to focus your full attention on your meal and read your magazine or newspaper after you have finished eating. You do not need to empty your plate if you are full before you have finished all the food set before you.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying a small “treat” now and again. Savor that piece of chocolate rather than devouring 4 or 5 pieces. Let the chocolate slowly melt in your mouth. Feel the smooth texture on your tongue.

Make each morsel of food a celebration and you will find that you leave the table satisfied and full, in more ways than one!
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