In today’s post, I want to give you a sneak peek of one of the activities we complete during a Living Wellness Growth Group: Mindful Eating. It’s one of my favorites! We’re revisiting this topic because the benefits you can gain from being more mindful of what and how you are eating are just too good not to share!
Before I share the Mindful Eating exercise, let me give you a little context about our Growth Groups, how we define mindfulness, and how this topic of Mindful Eating became part of Living Wellness.
What is a Living Wellness Growth Group?
Living Wellness Growth Groups are 8-week long nutrition/fitness/spiritual book studies, where a group of participants come together once a week to learn about & practice healthy living. Each week we practice a different component of healthy living—from exercise to grocery store tours and fermented foods demonstration to mindful eating. Living Wellness Growth Groups are wonderful places to be and become the healthy individuals we desire to be.
Mindfulness & The Benefits
Mindfulness is a really popular concept right now, and its popularity is showing up in all types of circles—fitness, nutrition, healthcare, even kindergartens!
When we discuss mindfulness, we are talking about the concept of becoming more aware and in-tune with the both the external (what you are doing/interacting with) and the internal (what you are feeling, tasting, experiencing).
Framson et al. (2009) describes mindfulness combined with eating in this way: “’Mindful eating’ describes a non-judgmental awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating.”
As I mention below, the benefits of mindful eating include learning when to start and stop eating, learning to better manage emotional eating, practicing being present, improving digestion and absorption of your food, and increasing your awareness of how you feel after you eat. Got more information about the benefits of Mindful Eating, check out these studies that have been published which support and promote this concept of Mindful Eating: Article 1, Article 2, Article 3, Article 4.
I hope you’ll enjoy this step-by-step guide for how to practice Mindful Eating as much as our Living Wellness Growth Groups participants do.
Grab an organic citrus fruit (or any organic fruit will do) and let’s get started!
I was running around the house, anxious about a deadline, when my sister (who is an occupational therapist) called. I told her I was about to eat the entire kitchen (which is my instinct when I’m anxious). She prayed with me and then told me to get an orange. I said, “What does an orange have to do with my anxiety?”
She said, “Trust me.”
So I grabbed an orange, and over the phone, she talked me through the following exercise.
Unbeknownst to her, this changed my entire way of eating. My sister learned the following technique from a psychologist as a calming and focusing exercise, but as a nutrition expert, I had other ideas about its application.
The benefits of mindful eating include learning when to start and stop eating, learning to better manage emotional eating, practicing being present, improving digestion and absorption of your food, and increasing your awareness of how you feel after you eat. If you are part of a Living Wellness Growth Group, you will do mindful eating together. However, you are welcome and encouraged to practice on your own as well!
This exercise works best with an organic citrus fruit, such as an orange or grapefruit, but be encouraged to practice mindful eating at every meal and snack. If you are allergic to citrus fruits, practice with an apple, pear, or a half-cup of strawberries instead (skip the peeling).
Practice Mindful Eating with Me
Step 1: Hold the fruit in your hands. Carefully take in the sight. Notice the color, shape, and texture. Focus only on the fruit. Take a deep breath.
Step 2: Peel the fruit (if applicable). Notice the smell, the color change, and the texture. Continue breathing deeply and relax your shoulders.
Step 3: Put one small piece of the fruit in your mouth. Notice the taste, the smell, and the texture. Chew slowly. Breathe deeply. Take time to count how many times you chew one piece of fruit. See if you can chew a few more times on your next bite.
Step 4: Continue eating the rest of the fruit, slowly, taking in all the senses as you eat.
Step 5: Notice how you feel after you have eaten the fruit. Do you feel satisfied? Do you feel good?
Step 6: Once you’re finished eating, let go of thoughts about food. The inability to release thoughts about food is at the root of our most challenging eating habits. Moving away from thoughts about food gives us the freedom to direct mental and emotional energy toward God. Be glad for the experience, and be satisfied with your choice of fruit and the amount. Let your mind move away from food and on to giving thanks.
Step 7: Give thanks. Thank God and ask him to nourish your body with the fruit.
Additional Food for Thought
- After practicing mindful eating, what are your thoughts?
- How do you feel after practicing the exercise? How do you feel thirty minutes later?
- Do you feel satisfied or do you want more food?
- How will practicing mindful eating transform your health and your relationship with food?
- When will you practice mindful eating each day of this week?
- We would be wise to practice mindfulness in all areas of our lives. How can you practice mindfulness to improve your relationship with God?
- God desires us to enjoy our food with great pleasure—not just the taste but the experience. Why else did he give us a nose, taste buds, and endorphins? Next time you eat, use all your senses and enjoy the experience! Then, remember to rest while you digest.
You are worth more than mediocre. You are worth exceptional health!
With contribution from Caitlyn J. Hanson
© 2017 Living Wellness, LLC Revolutionizing health, one community at a time.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any illnesses or disease. Please always check with your doctor before beginning any new nutritional or fitness program or before making any nutritional/fitness changes.
Framson, C., Kristal, A. R., Schenk, J., Littman, A. J., Zeliadt, S., & Benitez, D. (2009, August). Development and validation of the mindful eating questionnaire. Journal of the American Dietetics Association, 109 (8), 1439–1444. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2009.05.006