HAHRC Beats: Enjoy food more while eating less

Enjoy food more — and eat less — by practicing mindful eating: Pay attention to the look, smell, feel, and taste. Over time, it can lead to gradual weight loss and a shift to healthier choices.

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Enjoy food more — and eat less — by practicing mindful eating: Pay attention to the look, smell, feel, and taste. Over time, it can lead to gradual weight loss and a shift to healthier choices.



One way to enjoy your food more and to eat less is to try “mindful” eating. You may have heard the phrase “mindfulness” being used a lot lately. What does mindfulness mean?

Mindfulness is a special way of paying attention to what is going on in the present moment. It involves using all of your senses to focus on what you are doing right now. It is the opposite of letting your mind wander. When your mind wanders, you may think of many things, from regrets of the past to worries about the future, and time passes without you noticing it.

Here is an exercise to show what this means. Do this exercise with someone else. It is fun, promise!

  1. Pick up a piece of your favorite food — chocolate, doughnut, or a piece of juicy meat.

  2. Look. What color is the food? Is it shiny or dull? If you had to describe it to someone who had never seen it before, what would you say?

  3. Smell. Breathe in the smell of the food. What do you notice? What is surprising?

  4. Feel. Feel the saliva start to run in your mouth. Take a bite. Notice the texture of the food as you chew it. Notice the way your tongue moves in your mouth.

  5. Taste. What does it taste like? How would you describe the taste to someone else? Does the taste change over time?

  6. Listen. Listen to the sound your food makes as you chew it.

  7. Now swallow! You are done.

How was the experience of eating your food this way? How does it compare to the way you normally eat?

Did you have any other thoughts while you were doing this exercise — memories, guilt, thinking about what you have to do later in the day? If you did, that is okay. The important thing is just to notice them and let them go. You can imagine all of your worries or thoughts about the future are clouds, and that you see them floating away. Letting other thoughts go will help you savor the present moment more.

Eating mindfully helps us enjoy our food. Our food connects us to our senses and our culture — it is how we nourish ourselves, and how we celebrate. So, it should be fun!

Eating mindfully can also help you eat less. This is because you savor each bite slowly, so it is easier to listen when your body tells you that you are full. Studies show it also helps food digest better. And eating slowly and mindfully sets a good example for all our families. Over time, it can be a good way to gradually lose weight and to shift to healthier choices.

Here are some tips for trying this at home:

  1. Turn off the TV, close the computer, and put away your phone before starting a meal.

  2. Eat with friends or family.

  3. Take 30 seconds to think about where your food comes from.

  4. With the first bite of food, repeat the exercise above: look, smell, feel, taste and listen. Then enjoy!

Come to the next Healthy Active Hood River County Meeting to learn more about this and other local health initiatives, on Tuesday, May 23 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital Classroom 5.



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