Last week, I listened to a raisin. Sounds crazy, right? But don’t worry, I wasn’t hearing voices or having a conversation with the raisin. I listened to the raisin as part of a mindful eating exercise in the MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) course I’m currently taking.
Have you ever done a mindful eating exercise? If not, I highly recommend it. It’s so surprising what you notice when you slow down and engage all of your senses in the act of eating. You notice flavors, textures, sensations, and yes, even sounds. We rolled the raisin between our fingers near our ears and did actually hear a small sound.
Mindful eating isn’t just for entertainment though. It has very real benefits.
- You chew and digest your food much better. If you have digestive issues of any kind, even something as simple as bloating, try eating all of your meals mindfully for a few days and I can almost guarantee that you’ll notice improvement. Better digestion further improves nutritional status – you’ll absorb more of the nutrients in all that healthy food you eat.
- Because you slow down, you appreciate your food more, instead of just throwing it down the hatch barely noticing all the complex flavors. So you’re actually satisfied and not scavenging all day and night to get that satisfaction.
- You eat a lot less. Because you’re slowing down, your body has a chance to register signals of fullness and satiety, and you actually notice them. This is a natural, easy, enjoyable way to lose weight.
- And lastly, but not leastly, you feel more peaceful and centered. Multitasking of any sort including eating while driving, working, reading, watching TV, etc is subtly stressful. I never realized that until I had a mindful meal. I felt so relaxed after my mindful meal, that now I notice how shoveling food in while doing something else is agitating.
When you eat mindfully, you don’t need to go to extremes and listen to your food. It can be as simple as – “When eating, eat” – aka not doing anything else while eating. Slowing down and noticing the flavors, chewing well, pausing between bites, and checking in with your belly sensations several times during the meal. If you’d like more guidance, check out the Center for Mindful Eating’s resources.
Image by Hiroki Yamamoto