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 Appétit!
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!)
|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 Amazon.com so I never run out.