Mindful Eating

An image I put together as a handout for my class on the topic of mindful eating

An image I put together as a handout for my class on the topic of mindful eating

As part of the mindfulness and meditation series I’ve been teaching our next class will be, in part, about mindful eating.  So once again I’m taking to my blog to write out some ideas as to what I’ll say in regards to this topic.

Just as there is no one right way to be mindful about anything really, there is no one right way to practice mindful eating.  In any given moment we have the opportunity to direct our attention in a myriad of different ways that would all classify under the umbrella of mindfulness (hence the image I put together above :).  For instance, when we sit down to eat a meal we could practice mindfulness by looking deeply into the food in front of us.  We could become inquisitive and ponder questions about where our food came from and do our best to imagine all of the causes and conditions that went into its creation.  We could use our mindfulness to get in touch with the energy inherit in our food and how it wouldn’t be possible without the sun, soil, and water.  We could tune into our senses taking special notice of the textures, smells, taste, feel, and colors.  We could connect with our gratitude for the gift of food we are afforded, knowing that many people will not have enough to eat today.  Or we could practice by slowing down and putting our undivided attention on the process of eating, instead of hurrying through a meal or multi-tasking while eating.  And if we spent our meal time simply practicing to enjoy our food and have a pleasant time while eating that would certainly be a wonderful way to water our seeds of mindfulness as well.

We have a tendency to think that one way of doing something is supposed to work for everyone when it comes to all kinds of things.  This way of thinking, however, is often not the case.  There are many ways in which to reach any destination.  If you are drawn towards developing a practice of mindful eating these examples I have shared are just a few.  Try one or a combination of them when eating your next meal – or search out other instructions or come up with your own ideas.  Find what works best for you and from which practices you feel you benefit from.  There are many ways in which we can take small steps in the direction of mindful eating.  We don’t have to eat as slowly as a sloth moves or make it some huge production while eating.  We can start with simply slowing down a little tiny bit from our usual fast paced marathon meals, experience gratitude for our food, enjoy the flavors and textures, and remember, at least maybe just once, to smile.

2 thoughts on “Mindful Eating

  1. Thank you for this reminder. I’ve been fortunate to enjoy my eating on meditation retreats with zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. Similar to how you describe, he suggests we look deeply into the source of our food, and offer gratitude. As we consider the sun, rain, and much hard work and foresight that gardeners applied in order to grow our food, he suggests we can cultivate gratitude.
    It’s been a tough practice for me to set down my (greedy) fork between each bite. I’ve managed to slow down a little, and enjoy my food a lot.

  2. I don’t know if you read my recent post entitled Comparison is Never Helpful but in it I talk about an experience I had on one of our local retreats we just had. I spoke about how I don’t personally enjoy the practice of setting my fork down in between each bite – instead, I enjoy slowing down, smiling, and eating with lightness and joy. There’s no one right way to practice :) Thank goodness!

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