Mindful Eating

Dr. Roxane Chan leads a guided meditation on mindful eating.

June 9, 2020

Hello. My name is Roxanne, and I'm going to be guiding you through a practice of mindfulness eating. During this practice of eating mindfully, you will be introduced to five skills; settling the body, feeling into hunger, choosing your food, the experience of eating, and the experience of satiation. Once you're familiar with these skills, you can create your own mindfulness eating experience without needing the audio prompts. This meditation is best done before you have selected what to eat. However, if the selection is limited or has already been made, it can work just as well.

Settling the body. As a beginning to this mindfulness eating practice, take a moment to establish where you will be eating. You may seek out a sunny window seat, kitchen chair, blanket on the grass. If possible, also select a plate and cup that you would like to use. These things are optional, but reminds you to take some care to honor the time you'll spend eating, and extend the joy and nourishment you get from the food, to the joy and nourishment you get from your surroundings. Finding a place that above all, allows you to sit comfortably without feeling rushed.

Well, let's start with focusing our vision downward. Perhaps closing our eyes as we are comfortable, and bring our awareness to our breath. Allow yourself to be aware of the sensation of your breath as it enters and leaves the nose without needing to change your breathing pattern. Just noticing it. And allow yourself to extend your awareness of your breath to your chest, and then to your belly. Sit with this new awareness of the breath in the belly, and allow your belly to soften, giving yourself a broader awareness of the movement of your breath.

Now releasing your awareness of your breath, and focusing on that soft belly, begin to assess your hunger. Feeling into your hunger. Can you feel your level of hunger? Allow yourself to connect that sensation of hunger with your taste buds. Perhaps if you sit and become aware of the meal awaiting you, you notice that your mouth is getting ready to eat. Maybe feeling that your mouth is salivating. Your stomach's getting ready to eat. Engage your sensations, including your sense of smell, your attraction to color, your discernment of the importance of texture in the food you eat. Taking three slow breaths, in and out, to allow yourself to explore these sensations in your body.

Choosing your food. Open your eyes, and begin to renew the choices you have for food at this time. Even if your plate is made in front of you, take your time selecting the food you're going to eat. Understanding that in this space, there is no scarcity. Your hunger can be met where it is at today. Choose as you wish. Allow memories of favorite foods to come to you. Connect the foods of your childhood with the foods available to you today. Choose foods for this meal that will satisfy your hunger and create a sense of joyfulness. Allow yourself to connect with the color and texture of your food provided for you today. If you need to choose and cook your food, turn this recording off and allow yourself to fully attend to preparing your food. When you are ready to eat, turn the recording on again.

Eating. Before you take your first bite, allow yourself to acknowledge the earth that grew the food, and the many people that have brought this food to you. Farmers, truckers, store owners, chefs, and servers. Take a moment to connect with the sensations in your mouth. Do you feel any changes there as you begin to take your first bite of food? How does having that food, that first bite, change those sensations in your mouth? How does each type of food feel in your mouth as you select from your plate? What type of chew does it have? Which food elicits a sound of contentment from you? Which food causes you to change the pace of your eating? Do you eat some foods slower? Do you eat some foods faster? Allow yourself to select food placed in your mouth without judgment. Experiment with taking different bites of food, combining available foods from your plate, or maybe eating just one type of food at a time.

Check in periodically with your hunger in your belly, your heart, and your mind. How are they shifting as you eat? What thoughts or memories are triggered by the foods you're eating right now? If your plate becomes empty, and you want more, and you can, please help yourself. Meaning, the food is available to you. Let your body tell you the amount of food that will make you happy in this moment. Focusing your only attention on the food in front of you, and the sensations that result from eating this food. If you are listening to this as you eat, allow yourself to pause the recording, taking your time with your food. And turn it again when you are near the end of being done eating.

Satiation. When you feel your hunger start to be less, begin to think about your level of fullness instead of your level of hunger. Your body will need some time to connect with the feeling of fullness. But as your eating starts to slow, perhaps you are beginning to be more selective in what you want to eat. You do not need to worry about food left on the plate. Changing your question to your body from my level of hunger, to my level of satiation or fullness. When you feel satiated, stop eating. Remind yourself that food is available if you want more later. Even if it's 10 minutes from now. The decision to stop eating is just for now. Sit for a moment and connect with your breath. Allow your breathing to soften your belly. Allow your breath to connect with your heart. Sense how your body feels now after you've eaten your food. How have sensations in your body shifted? How have your emotions shifted?

Wrap up a moment of gratefulness for the food and the hands that brought it to you. Continue this grateful awareness as you clean your plate, your cooking utensils. Or thank your cook and servers whereas you pay your bill. Going out into the world and into the rest of your day, feeling a sense of energy brought to you by the nourishment of this food, allowing yourself to fully participate in life.