Learn to savor each mouthful of food and you will start down the path of more joy and less weight. Enjoy every bite and learn to tell when you’re full.
The following is a meditation that you can do yourself, or slowly and reflectively read to others as they begin a meal. This meditation is useful for those wishing to lose weight, have a healthier relationship with food, or simply enjoy the food they eat.
Preparing for Mindfulness
Get your meal ready, block out as many distractions as you can, and take a deep breath. Breathing is necessary but deep breathing, however good it is for us, is sadly optional. So don’t forget to take deep, cleansing breaths. Whether you’re sitting in a cafe or at your kitchen table, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters right now is you, and your food.
Seat yourself comfortably and put your food on a plate before you. Turn off the TV and radio. Turn off your cell phone and be prepared to let your machine pick up the landline. If you’ve got children, pets, or other concerns, do your best to attend to their needs before you sit down. The object is to minimize distractions so do your best. Don’t read a book or the newspaper. This time is about you and your food.
A Reality Check: Are You Hungry?
Take a deep breath – a slow inhale, using your diaphragm and a slow exhale. Let your shoulders relax and drop down as you look at the food on your plate. How hungry are you right now? On a scale from one to ten check in with yourself. This may feel odd at first, but give it a try. One says you’re not remotely hungry, and in fact you just ate something, and ten says you’re so hungry you’re lightheaded and it’s likely you haven’t eaten anything all day. So, on a scale of one to ten, how hungry are you?
If you’re not remotely hungry, go wrap up your plate and stick it in the fridge. You can come back to your plate of food and this meditation when you are hungry. If you are hungry, continue on.
A Meditation for Eating
Take another deep breath and let yourself feel your hunger. Where is your hunger? Is it in your mouth, your throat, your stomach, your whole body?
Look at your plate. Let your eyes go soft and linger on the food in front of you. Is it beautiful? What sort of colors are there? Is there a strong, appetizing aroma? What textures are there?
Take a moment to consider where your food came from. Whose were the hands that prepared it? Your own? Someone else’s? You and the guys at the factory, both? Consider the farmers and ranchers in the towns and villages that your food came from, near and far. Consider the sun beating down on the crops and the rain that watered them.
Dig deeply within yourself to find the place where your gratitude dwells. Find the gratitude to a Universe that supplies such abundance, the gratitude to all the hands that have touched your food both near and far, the gratitude for the food itself which is about to meet so many of your physical and emotional needs. For just a brief moment in your day, be Gratitude personified.
Take another deep breath and decide what will be your very first bite. Search your plate for the one bite you want most, more than any other. Pick up your fork, or spoon, or the eat-with-your-hands part of your meal and take one small bite. Hold it for a moment in your mouth, on your tongue before you start chewing, and put your fork down. Hold it – and savor the taste of it. What does it taste like? Chew it slowly, very slowly, tasting your first bite utterly and completely. Put your fork down and devote the attention of your entire body to tasting this food. Taste it, and when you finish chewing, when your mouth is completely empty, keep tasting it. What is the aftertaste like? Is it different? Subtle? Just the same? Don’t pick up your fork, or your sandwich, yet.
When your mouth is completely empty, when there is nothing left to swallow, think about how that first bite tasted. Are you used to actually tasting the food you eat? How good was it? As good as you’d hoped, or are you slightly disappointed in the taste? As amazing as that first bite was, remember it. When your food stops tasting so amazing, that’s your body’s first subtle sign that you’re getting full. Of course, if your first bite tasted like cardboard, you’re going to miss that subtle sign, so maybe that’s an indicator that you need to make more than a minor overhaul to your standard menu. But let’s go back to the meal at hand.
Take another deep breath and pick the next bite out before you even pick up your fork. Take a small portion – enough for a small to medium sized bite – and bring it to your mouth. Smell it. Revel in all the senses you have. Put it in your mouth and let it sit on your tongue for a moment. Put your fork down. What does this bite taste like? As good as you’d imagined?
As you begin to chew it, notice the texture and flavor. Does the flavor change or expand as you chew? Chew it slowly. Savor it. How much are you enjoying your food? Are you feeling impatient? If you are, just acknowledge the impatience. That’s okay. Don’t let it worry you. Patience or no patience, no one is going to steal your food from you. It will all be there, waiting to nourish you the moment you put it in your mouth and frankly, your food doesn’t care if it gets eaten slowly or quickly, so go ahead and be adventurous today; eat slowly, savor everything, and don’t take another bite till you’ve wrung out every moment from the one before.