Thursday, January 5, 2017

Mindful Eating: Part 2

How to eat with intention and attention
Lessons from a Raisin
What does it mean to eat mindfully? Last post we learned a bit about how relaxing before diving into a meal greatly improves digestion. Beyond physiological benefits, bringing mindfulness into your daily diet also enhances flavors and appreciation of what is on your plate. This can lead to less wasted nutrients, less over-eating, and even raised awareness of where the food came from and how it was prepared.

To eat mindfully is to eat with intention and attention.

I never thought I would enjoy a raisin. Not even a little. But during a mindfulness exercise in an Environmental Consumerism class in college, my sentiments changed. After staring at this thing for 5 minutes (which felt like eternity) and observing every thing about it: smelling it, holding it, bringing it to my lips, and finally tasting it…I actually started to feel guilty I had neglected raisins all this time. With a new-found appreciation for all factors involved in bringing this raisin from the farm to my plate, and all the sensations that came with observing it, there was no way I was throwing that wrinkly little thing away anymore (my original intention). I actually recall it being the best thing I had eaten all day. And to this day, I never fret the raisin. 

In the cafeteria and at home, mindful eating can be a promising approach to inspire children to try new foods and minimize waste. It can also encourage children to reduce frantic eating that could lead to chronic snacking, overeating, or emotional eating. 

Ready to see how a raisin can teach you too? Here’s the mindfulness activity to try with your classroom, family, or just on your own! 
You can also start trying these tricks during meals*:
  Eat with chopsticks.
  Eat with your non-dominant hand.
  Chew your food 30 to 50 times per bite.
  Eat without TV, newspaper or computer.
  Eat sitting down.
  Put the proper portions of food on your plate and try to make the meal last at least 20 minutes.
*Provided by Brigham and Women’s article Mastering the Mindful Meal by Stephanie Vangsness, R.D., L.D.N., C.N.S.D.

Do you think mindfulness in the cafeteria is realistic? 
If you've tried any of the steps above, how did it go? We want to know!

Written by Devon Byrne, NTP
Food Literacy Educator, Somerville Farm to School Project

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