Many of us sit down with a bag of chips while in front of the TV, only to realize that our hand is scraping around in the salty crumbs at the bottom of the bag before we’ve ever really tasted our snack.
What? Did I eat the entire thing already?
Anyone that multi-tasks with eating (working and eating, watching TV and eating, driving and eating, the list goes on) knows this experience well.
So, I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to interview mindfulness eating expert Charlotte Hammond (R.D.) on my podcast Mountain Mantras: Wellness and Life Lessons. In this 45-minute discussion, we uncovered three steps that will allow you to immediately bring more mindfulness into your eating.
Step 1: Breathe between bites
Step 2: Play with your food; get all your senses involved
Step 3: Take your time: 20 minutes is needed on average for your stomach to send a signal to your brain that you are full.
Charlotte also offered important advice for teens, a population she focuses on in her work. Top tips for teens include:
1) Get sugar out of the liquids you consume
2) Focus on foods you can HAVE (not forbidden foods), and
3) Reframe our vocabulary around food to focus on quality: 50% of meals should be low starch
For families, Charlotte recommends that you study your food bills so that you can better understand, in a mindful way, where can you save and where can you splurge. Areas she recommends for a splurge include clean eating to avoid the most harmful pesticides in produce.
An easy way to remember which products you might want to splurge on for organic is the ABC method. A for Apples, B for Berries, and C for Celery (plus anything with leaves).
DOSE OF FUN: Eating should never be a race, slow down and enjoy the pace.
MORE MAGIC: I’m going to assign you a simple yet powerful exercise to allow you to incorporate more mindfulness into your eating.
It’s called the raisin exercise:
• Give yourself about five minutes to complete the exercise. No rushing!
• Get a raisin and put it in the palm of your hand. Start by just observing its visual qualities. Is it shiny or dull? Is it smooth or wrinkly?
• Then really feel the raisin. Roll it between your fingers and observe its texture. Hard or soft? Sticky or smushy?
• Now, close your eyes and put the raisin in your mouth. First, let it sit on your tongue without chewing.
• When you begin chewing, bite slowly and extend the amount of time it takes to chew. What does the raisin taste like as it moves between your teeth and around your mouth? Do you feel the urge to swallow right away? Try to hold off on that urge for just a few moments. Then go ahead and swallow the raisin. As you move through your day and its meals and snacks, see if you can appreciate the sensual qualities of your food. Is your appreciation for your food growing? If you’d like to listen to more from mindfulness experts, allow me to suggest the following interviews I’ve conducted with parents and experts on this topic.
My interview with Mira Binzen, who has taught yoga and mindfulness to children since 2002.
Ryan Redman is a mindfulness expert and the Executive Director of the Flourish Foundation.
My interview with Annie Mahon, author of Things I Did When I Was Hangry.