- Paying attention to how you feel right now.
- Using all 5 senses to notice the world around you.
- Accepting what you observe without judgment.
To have mindful mealtimes…
- Put away distractions (such as television, electronic devices, homework, arguments).
- You can eat alone or with family and friends.
- Pay attention while you prepare and eat food.
- Use your 5 senses to explore the foods.
- Notice when you are “hungry” and when you are “full”.
How do my thoughts and feelings affect digestion?
- A network of nerves surrounds your gut and guides digestion.
- When you are calm, your nerves trigger digestive muscles to work correctly.
- When you are stressed, your brain sends signals to slow or stop digestion. It can also cause belly pain.
- What you can do:
- Use deep breathing exercises before a meal.
- Breathing exercises improve communication between the gut and brain. This helps to control pain signals, helps with digestion and reduces inflammation (swelling).
- Focus on the food.
- When you smell food, your brain sends signals to produce saliva in your mouth and digestive juices in your stomach.
- Your body is getting ready to digest!
- Take your time and chew.
- Chewing is the first step in breaking down food.
- Chewing food well helps your body to use all the nutrients inside food and helps prevent some symptoms of indigestion.
Tips to practice mindfulness from meal preparation to mealtime:
Start exploring: Use food preparation to set the tone!
- Practice mindful handwashing.
- Feel the water and soap on your skin.
- Think about your day. How did it make you feel?
- Use your 5 senses while preparing the food.
- Smell and taste as you go.
- How does each ingredient taste and smell? Does it change during cooking?
Note: Do not taste raw eggs or meats, or mixtures containing these.
- Use colorful fruits and vegetables cut in different ways to add interest to the plate.
- What do you hear?
- Sizzling in the pan.
- Rhythmic chopping.
- What else do you hear?
- Use touch as a tool as you wash produce, mix ingredients, and shape patties.
- Pay attention to how you feel.
- Are you hungry?
- Is there something that you need before you are ready to eat?
- If you feel anxious or overwhelmed, take one or more deep breaths.
Create a supportive environment:
- Choose music that makes you feel calm and happy.
- Try different lighting.
- Limit distractions. Turn off the television. Put away cell phones, tablets, homework, and toys.
- Make sure everything is on the table before sitting for your meal.
- Children should sit in chairs or booster seats that support their bodies and feet.
- Before you start to eat, relax and focus with breathing exercises.
- Pause to be thankful. Follow a religious tradition or use your own words.
- Some topics can be stressful. Think about sharing good news from the day while you eat.
- Decide what to eat, how much to take, and enjoy the food on your plate.
- Slow down and savor. Put your fork down while you chew each bite. Pause and appreciate the next bite before you put it in your mouth.
Eating with 5 senses:
- Am I feeling hungry? During the meal, remember to pause and think about how hungry you feel.
- How does the food feel as you chew and move it around with your tongue? How does it change? Do you feel ready to swallow?
- What flavors do you taste? Is it sweet, sour, spicy, salty, bitter, savory (umami)?
- What does the food taste like on different parts of your tongue?
- What foods taste good together?
Mindful eating tools
- Mindfulness apps:
- Judging fullness:
- Eat with 5 senses - raisin meditation:
- 4-7-8 Breath demonstration: