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Mindful Meals:
Re-Learning how to eat with Pleasure


Most of us distract ourselves while we eat, by watching TV or reading or trying to work. Try doing this exercise and observe what you feel. Consider writing about what you observe.

1 Lie down and breathe deeply, allowing your body to relax. Pause between breaths and tune into where you feel hungry. Mouth? Stomach? Anywhere else? Notice any rumblings or contractions or waves of pressure or emptiness.

2 See if an image of a specific food comes to mind. If several things seem appealing, or if no particular foods suggest themselves, ask yourself about the qualities of what will satisfy your hunger: Texture (crunchy? smooth? chewy?), temperature (hot? warm? cool? cold?), density (heavy? light?), taste (sweet? sour? bitter? salty?), and so on. When you have identified a specific food, open your eyes.

3 Go get the food. If you can’t get the exact thing you identified, get as close as possible, and get more than you think you can eat at one sitting.

4 If necessary, prepare the food. Maximize your anticipation by looking at, touching, and smelling the food as you chop, cut, arrange ingredients. Choose a portion that is your best guess as to what will satisfy, and put the rest away for now. Serve yourself the food in a container that pleases you, tactually and visually.

5 Choose a place to eat that is peaceful and pleases you.

6 Look at the food. Enjoy its details - colors, textures, layers. Take a deep whiff. Now close your eyes and slowly take a bite, allowing the bite to stay in your mouth for you to fully appreciate the taste before you begin chewing.

7 Swallow and trace the food down to your stomach, using the sensations of hot/cold/acid/creaminess/ changing weight or pressure, to be your cues. If you don’t quite feel anything, imagine the path the food is taking down into your body. Continue for several more bites, noticing after the fourth bite whether your stomach feels less empty, as if it is slowly filling up.

8 Become aware of your whole body. Are your muscles tense anywhere? Notice how you are sitting, and what you are thinking. Are you thinking of the sensations of the food you are eating, or have other thoughts intruded? Gently bring your attention back and take a breath.

9 Continue to eat as in #7 until you feel a small closing sensation in your stomach. If you are not sure you are satisfied, wait a moment and check in again. Perhaps one more bite will confirm the sense of satisfaction? Take a good long look at the remaining food - does it look the same as when you started? Or less interesting, more static, almost plastic? If so, let yourself feel the full power of your detachment.

10 Before you clear away the dish, give yourself one more quiet moment to tune into your body. Allow yourself to fully experience the sensation of satisfaction and contrast it with the hunger before you ate.

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Try eating one mindful meal a day.   Notice the objections you feel about doing this:

  • It's not productive if I'm only eating
  • If I eat this way I won't get everything else done
  • I get bored
  • I don't want to be aware of eating, it's embarrassing
  • I don't like the food I feel I have to eat
  • I don't want to give up the numbing out experience
  • ???

Most of us feel considerable resistance to mindful meals!  That's so interesting . . . If you are curious about why, try it for awhile and see what answers you find.  What might you gain by eating with more peace and pleasure?

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Last updated: March 05, 2011.