Feeling disconnected from your body and its physical cues is common in our modern world. We lead busy lives and often eat on the go or while doing other things like driving or working. It’s not surprising that over time we can become less aware of when we feel hungry or overfilled. Mindful eating can help reconnect us with our bodies and help us clearly hear what we want and need when it comes to appetite.
Mindful eating includes learning to pay attention to the physical and emotional feelings associated with the experience of eating and hunger.
There are several mindful eating exercises that you can practice to become more aware of how food affects your body.
Putting your fork down in between bites
Putting your fork down in between bites can help slow us down while we are eating. When we eat slower, we not only enjoy food more, but it also enables us to sense whether we are still hungry or if we are getting full. It takes a while after a bite of food to experience satiety, so eating fast often leads to feeling overfilled. Putting your fork down in between bites makes the meal take longer and leaves more time for a sensory experience and greater awareness of how your body feels.
Savor the Food
As you eat, notice the smell, taste, and texture of each bite. Take in each sense one at a time. Is the food crunchy, smooth, bumpy, or gooey? Does it taste sweet, sour, or salty? How does it smell? What does each of these sensory experiences make you think of? Is it a meal that brings up any pleasant memories?
A great mindful eating exercise to try is the raisin exercise featured below. Before you dive into a dish you created, try this mindful eating technique and learn how to do it step-by-step. Doing this will give you the knowledge of what’s involved in savoring your meal!
Mindful eating exercise. Eat without distraction
Turn off the TV, put work away and turn off the phone. Focus only on the meal. If you have a favorite playlist, you can have this playing in the background. When we are distracted, we are less able to tune in to our physical cues.
Use the hunger satiety scale.
Taking the time to assess how hungry or full you are can be an effective strategy for learning how to listen to your physical hunger cues. Over time this exercise can help you recognize
How to use the hunger satiety scale.
1. Rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10 before and after meals, with one being famished and ten being overly full. A good time to eat is when you are feeling at around three or four on the scale.
2. After you finish eating, check in with yourself again and rate how full you feel.
3. Notice the difference between the two numbers.
4. If the number went up between eight and ten, slowing down eating may help.
5. If the number didn’t change much, you may need to eat a bit more.
Be aware of how you feel before, during, and after eating. Notice if your hunger has been satisfied or if you need more.
Mindful eating takes practice and patience, but it can be incredibly rewarding. Try incorporating these mindful eating exercises into your daily routine, and you may soon find yourself more in touch with your body’s needs.
Mindful eating does more than help to prevent overfilling yourself; it can also help you learn to appreciate food more, reduce the stress associated with meals, enjoy taste sensations more fully, and better understand cravings and hunger signals.
The key to mindful eating is being aware of your body, environment, and experience. This will help you better understand what kind of nourishment you need. Mindful eating can help you develop a more balanced relationship with food.
- Kane, Ryan. The Raisin Meditation For Mindful Eating (+ PDF). 21 Feb. 2022, https://mindfulnessbox.com/raisin-mindfulness-exercise/.
- Home | University Health Services. https://uhs.berkeley.edu/. Accessed 26 Jan. 2023.