Tomatoes, corn, carrots, zucchini, melons, peaches, and plums–the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables this time of year creates a flavor feast for your taste buds. Eating is never so pleasurable as when you can choose from such a wide array of fresh foods, making this the perfect time to practice the art of mindful eating and enjoy the flavors of all those ripe fruits and veggies to the fullest.
What does it mean to eat mindfully? In two words–pay attention. Focus on your food–the look, the aroma, the texture, the taste. Take time to explore all of those sensual aspects of the sweet, juicy peach or the ripe, savory tomato. The slower pace and attention to detail not only enhance the deliciousness of your food, they make you aware of when you feel full and help prevent you from overeating.
The Art of Mindful Eating
Though mindful eating seems simple enough, many of us are more accustomed to gobbling down a meal so we can hurry on to the next thing we need to do in our busy schedule. Take a minute to review these steps so that next time you eat, the experience will be special and satisfying.
1. Create a ritual that honors the food and what went into bringing it to you. Plan to eat your meals at the kitchen or dining room table. Clear the space of distractions—no TV, computer, newspaper, magazine, book, tablet, or smart phone. Use real plates, glasses, and flatware, not paper or plastic, which signal a disposable experience.
2. Rate your hunger. Eating mindfully begins with listening to your body. Don’t sit down to lunch just because the clock strikes noon or buy a bucket of popcorn simply because you’re at the movie theater. Ask yourself, are you hungry? “Rate your hunger from 1 (not hungry) to 5 (you want to eat a house),” says Lisa Talamini, RD, senior expert, Science and Behavioral Interventions for Curves Jenny Craig. “Ideally, you want to be at a 3 when you eat.”
3. Engage all your senses. Talamini offers these steps to a sensational dining experience.
- Take a breath to help you be fully present to the experience .
- Sip water to clear your palate.
- Look at and appreciate the beauty of the food in front of you.
- Take a single bite.
- Chew slowly and notice the different flavors, textures, and sounds.
- Swallow slowly before you take your next bite.
4. Check in with your hunger. “Pause mid-meal to check your hunger,” advises Talamini. “Listen to your satisfaction signals. You should begin to feel pleasantly satisfied, not still hungry or over-stuffed. On a scale where 1 is still hungry and 5 is uncomfortably full, you want to be at a 3.” And when you’re there, simply stop eating, even if there is food still on your plate.
Eating mindfully is easy this time of year. With so many fresh fruits and veggies to enjoy raw or in your recipes, you can reinvent your meals every day. Practice mindful eating every time you take a bite, and it will become a habit. Then, every season will be delicious!