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Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating

For many of us, emotional eating is half the battle when trying to create a healthy lifestyle. When we’re feeling bored, stressed or overwhelmed, the easiest way to get quick relief is by reaching for our favourite unhealthy snack. However, this sense of comfort is usually short and normally followed by a crash in energy. This cycle can affect us at any age and can impact our attempts at building healthy eating habits as a family. Our emotional links to food are strong, and comfort eating may be a way to cope. So how do we lower emotional eating in a way that is not self-punishing, whilst still enjoying our relationship with food?

Mindfulness has become a popular wellbeing tool, used in schools, workplaces, and clinical settings around the world to manage stress, increase focus and support emotional wellbeing. Popular Apps like Headspace provide simple guided mindfulness meditations that teach us to be aware of our breathing, bodily sensations and surroundings as way to be in the present moment. But did you know that mindfulness can also be used to transform our relationship with food?

Mindful eating means slowing down, using our five senses, and paying attention to the food in front of us - switching off any distractions, chewing slowly, and noticing the flavours, smells and textures in our food. By doing this, not only are we able to enjoy a richer experience of eating, we are also able to look into our eating patterns. 

Eating mindfully means putting in more time and thought in the foods we eat. Mindfulness can also help us notice when we are hungry and when to stop eating when we feel full. Basically, by becoming more aware of what we are choosing to eat - we are more likely to make healthier choices!

Mindful Eating Exercise: Raisin Meditation

Try this exercise to practice mindful eating with the whole family! And don’t be afraid to have a laugh with it! It can feel quite silly at first, to focus on the process of eating, as we’ve become used to chatting, watching TV, scrolling through our phones or becoming lost in thought during meal times. 

In this exercise, we will be using our 5 senses and noticing all the details that we often miss when we usually eat. If you don’t have a raisin handy, any dried or fresh fruit will do! 

Step 1: Sight - Notice what the raisin looks like. Really focus in on every little detail. The colour, the texture, any ridges or bumps, any areas of light or shade. What words would you use to describe how it looks?

Step 2: Touch - Feel how small and light the raisin is in your palm, feel it’s texture as you hold it between your fingers. Is it soft or hard? Smooth or rough? Dry or sticky?

Step 3: Smell - Hold the raisin to your nose, take a deep breath and think about how you would describe its smell. Notice whether the smell makes you feel more hungry!

Step 4: Taste -  Without starting to chew right away, place the raisin in your mouth. Slowly move the raisin around and concentrate on how its texture feels against your tongue and the roof of your mouth. Take a couple of bites and notice the burst of flavour flooding your taste-buds. Is the flavour building as you continue to chew the raisin? How would you describe it?

Step 5: Sound -  Pay attention to the sounds you make as you chew the raisin slowly, and notice the sound of your breathing also. When you feel you have finished exploring the flavour of the raisin, swallow it with intention - and observe the raisin travel down your throat, through your esophagus and towards your stomach. 

 

Top Tip: Take a moment to think about where this raisin came from - it’s amazing to think about where it grew and the process it took to reach your shopping basket!

 

We hope you have found this interesting!

Best Wishes

The Spark Team