Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bodacious Body Image Wednesday: Seven Steps to Mindful Eating (of Chocolate)!

It's Bodacious Body Image Wednesday again, and do I have a (chocolatey) treat for you! This week's body image activity is an exercise in mindful eating.... of CHOCOLATE! What is mindful eating? Well... the New York Times did a great job exploring the concept in this article, but I'll try to boil it down to this quote from Psychology Today by Dr. Jan Chozen Bays (Zen teacher and author of Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering A Healthy and Joyful Relationship With Food) :
Mindful eating involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside the body. We pay attention to the colors, smells, textures, flavors, temperatures, and even the sounds (crunch!) of our food. We pay attention to the experience of the body. Where in the body do we feel hunger? Where do we feel satisfaction? What does half-full feel like, or three quarters full?
Mindful eating - which is different from "intuitive eating" - focuses on taking sensuous pleasure in foods, and on the conscious engagement in all of your senses (except for your sense of guilt!). Mindful eating is the opposite of mindless eating (you know, the kind of eating that starts with a DVD and a box of Krispy Kremes and ends with .... a box). As someone who once had a love/hate relationship with food (Krispy Kreme glazed chocolate cake donuts in particular), I am grateful to mindful eating for teaching me to just. love. food

Mindful eating is awesome and 100% consistent with the 

I used to binge on a box of these, eating only the glazed exterior... yipes!

Through mindful eating I discovered that I don't even LIKE the slightly chemically flavor of Krispy Kreme doughnuts (it turns out that I much prefer the Passion Fruit Milk Chocolate pastries from Dynamo Donuts). Mindful eating helped me kick my "clean the plate even if you're stuffed" habit. It turned me into a sublime savorer, a moan-when-I-eat nosher, a best-hamburger-in-San-Franisco chaser, and the last person at the table to finish eating. This is a vast improvement from the girl who ate the exact same calorie-counted breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day during my freshman year of college (save for the donut binges).

Passion Fruit Glaze + Milk Chocolate Crumbles? OH YEAH! 

Mindful eating, like many Zen habits, is not learned overnight. Below is a beginner's lesson, step-by-step. The only supplies you'll need are: an open mind and a small piece of chocolate (a Hershey's kiss is a good size, though I'd upgrade to a higher quality chocolate if possible!) I am drawing from a lesson outlined in this Psychology Today article. (Modeling each step is my sister, Hanna, great lover of chocolate and the person who first introduced me to Califonia's abundant gastronomic culture.) Bon App├ętit!

Steps to Mindfully Eating Chocolate:

1. Notice the weight of a piece of chocolate in your hand. Look at it closely.
Looks good to me! Swiss chocolate whoooeee!

2. Observe the shape and color. Use at least three words to describe it to yourself.
("Swiss!" "Red" and "Just the right size")

3. As you unwrap it, listen closely to the crinkle of the foil or paper.

4. Bring the chocolate up to your nose, and inhale deeply. Notice what thoughts come into your mind as you do this. The smell of chocolate can bring up some powerful feelings and memories. Deeply inhale.

Doesn't this image make you take a deep breath just from looking at it? Better go get yourself some chocolate!

5. Do any critical thoughts come up like, "I shouldn't eat this"? If so, let the thoughts come and go as if you are letting go of a balloon. 
(Hanna didn't have this problem!)

6. Place the chocolate in your mouth. Notice the flavor, richness, and texture. Pay attention to how the sensations change as it melts and molds to your mouth.  
Yeah, I know you're jealous! 

7. Follow the sensations as the chocolate slips down your throat into your stomach. 
(BTW isn't this video super cute? Half-way through, Hanna asked, "Can I have another bite??" Yes, of course you can!)


This is how you can eat chocolate mindfully. But don't forget - ANY food can (and should!) be eaten mindfully. Good luck!

Any chocolate lovers out there willing to give it a try and report back? How did it go?

What is YOUR favorite chocolate treat? 

P.S. - I'm a huge fan of these Equal Exchange Organic Panama Extra Dark Chocolate bars. I buy them  in bulk from so I never run out.  


  1. I recently found a "forgot I bought this a couple weeks ago" chocolate bar the other day. I'm going to try it when I get home. Thanks for the suggestion. :)

  2. Excellent! I hope you savor it. :)

  3. I do this exercise with my clients in our self-compassion course and love it. ITs amazing how much more you enjoy when you slow down and take it in one bite at a time.

    1. Becky, that is awesome! What kind of chocolate do you use?

  4. I never before realized why food has always been a challenge for me ... until now. I totally grew up mindless eating!! And while I know a 30-year habit will be hard to break, I'm eager to try! Thanks so much for the post, Kjerstin :)

    1. You're so welcome. I wish you all the best and hope you fall in love with your food like I did!

  5. I moan over my food all the time. Almost like Bill Murray in "What About Bob." Wonder if my husband ever gets embarrassed?

    1. Ha! My husband just asks that I don't repeat that famous "I'll have what she's having" scene from When Harry Met Sally

  6. After giving up sweets for 6 weeks for Lent this year, I am craving that first bite of chocolate this Easter Sunday!

    1. Sounds like a great Lent challenge. You should treat yourself to something good!

  7. My instructor in my body image/self esteem class, several years ago, had us do this very exercise. She passed out individually wrapped pieces of Dove chocolate. I will never forget the slow melting process of the chocolate, in my mouth, and the smooth flowing as it moved down my throat. I've thought about this over and over again, especially when I'm tempted to eat on the run--or while I'm trying to do something else at the same time. It reminds me that I need to stop and enjoy the deliciousness for what it is.

    Thanks for the fun article and video! :)

    1. Mmmmm... now you're making me hungry for that Dove chocolate. Isn't it crazy how just ONE round of mindful eating can change your way of thinking about food and appetite?

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  11. She is eating so tasty chock let i love it.

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