By Rebecca Snow, MS, CNS, RH(AHG)
Food choices are a direct result of where you put your focus or intention. Learning how foods affect our body, mind, and spirit is a process of discovery. Our bodies can be our best teachers, as we become observant of our body and the foods we eat. Making food choices that benefit health and wellness comes naturally when you pay attention.
The practice of paying attention and observing is not a huge investment of time. It can be a moment of noticing how a food tastes, smells, or feels in your mouth. The practice can be as simple as taking a deep breath before you eat. Another practice is to take a moment before you eat to express gratitude for the person who prepared the food, the person who grew the food, or just even for the food itself and the abundance of food available to you.
We overeat not because we enjoy food too much -it is because we don't enjoy it enough.
~ Charles Eisenstein
This practice of observing, noticing, appreciating, and being mindful of food and how it feels in your body and affects your body will reap benefits and rewards. Mostly the evidence comes from the practice. However, recent studies demonstrate that nutrition programs that incorporate meditation and mindfulness training improve outcomes of weight-loss and reduce binge eating (Tapper, Shaw, et al., 2008; Kristeller, Baer, et al., 2006; Smith, Shelley, et al., 2006).
Spring is on its way! And so are the many flavors of spring and summer, the fresh and delicious locally grown greens, strawberries, herbs, and more. Enjoy! You can use the meditations below as reminders of your practice.
Donald Altman’s Experience Food Deeply from “Meal by Meal”
For this meditation, practice being mindful of all your senses.
- Use your sight to look at food’s color and shape with full concentration.
- Smell a food’s aroma—both cooked and uncooked. Can you tell when something is fresh or spoiled?
- Taste a food by letting it linger in your mouth for a long time, chewing it and extracting all the flavor it has to give you. Do you like (or dislike) it?
- Experience details of a food’s texture and sound as you chew.
- Hear food as you crunch, munch, and pop it in your mouth.
Thich Nhat Hanh, from “Present Moment Wonderful Moment”
Looking At Your Empty Plate
My plate, empty now, will soon be filled with precious food.
Beginning to Eat
With the first taste, I promise to offer joy.
With the second, I promise to help relieve the suffering of others.
With the third, I promise to see other others’ joy as my own.
With the fourth, I promise to learn the way of non-attachment and equanimity
Finishing Your Meal
The plate is empty. My hunger is satisfied. I vow to live for the benefit of all beings.
Kristeller, J. L., R. Baer, et al. (2006). Mindfulness-based approaches to eating disorders. Mindfulness and Acceptance-based Interventions: Conceptualization, application, and empirical support. R. E. Baer. San Diego, Elsevier.
Smith, B. W., B. M. Shelley, et al. (2006). "A Preliminary Study of the Effects of Modified Mindfulness Intervention on Binge Eating." Complementary Health Practice Review 11(3): 133-43.
Tapper, K., C. Shaw, et al. (2008). "Exploratory randomised controlled trial of a mindfulness-based weight loss intervention for women." Appetite.