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How to eat mindfully

Watch Melissa and lead educator for Monash University's 'Mindfulness and Wellbeing and Peak Performance', Richard Chambers eat a dried blueberry.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: OK, Mel, so let’s do some mindful eating.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: And if you’d like to do this yourself, perhaps just hit “pause” on the video for a moment and go and get some food for yourself and then come back. One of the most important steps of mindful eating is just to tune into your body. So take a moment now just to tune in, and notice how your body’s feeling. And in particular, tune in to your stomach and notice how hungry you are, or aren’t. How hungry are you right now?
MELISSA ADAMSKI: Not very hungry. Just had lunch.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: OK, so now that you know that, take a look at this platter of food in front of you, and just let your eyes go over all the different foods, and getting a sense of what your body would naturally like to eat right now. Which of these foods calls to you the most?
MELISSA ADAMSKI: Well, since I’ve just had lunch, I think something a little bit sweet. So I think I might try the dried blueberries.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: OK, so take one of those dried blueberries then. So now, just bring it up close to your eyes and take a really good look at it. So now we’re going to connect with the senses. So looking really closely at this dried blueberry, perhaps turning it over in your fingers, noticing the irregular pattern that the skin’s formed as it’s dried, noticing the colour of it, noticing the raised edges, how they catch the light and there are the darker folds and valleys. Just close your eyes and just realise that this blueberry was once growing on a vine somewhere. And you might, just for a moment, wonder where it might have been growing. And then it was picked.
And you might wonder who picked that– maybe it was a machine, or a farmer, backpacker. And then it was dried, perhaps on a big sheet in the sun or maybe in an oven, something like that. And then, how did it get to you? What was that journey like? You might just wonder how it got here. And then if you come back to your senses, just closing your eyes again and just feeling it. Just noticing the texture of the skin, the roughness, the smoothness. Giving it a gentle squeeze, noticing its consistency. Bring it up to your ear, listening to it. Perhaps you should give it a squeeze. Give it a really good squeeze. What are you hearing?
MELISSA ADAMSKI: Yeah, that’s a slightly juicy sound.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: Yeah. And then bring it to your nose. So taking some deep inhalations, noticing what it smells like, if your mind goes off into memories or associations. Just keep coming back to the actual smell. And as you do this, you might also notice perhaps salivation taking place, where your body’s preparing itself. Are you noticing anything like that?
MELISSA ADAMSKI: Definitely. My mouth’s watering a little bit.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: So the body’s preparing itself to digest the food before you put it in your mouth. And as you place it in front of your lips, but not yet in your mouth, and anticipate eating it, just noticing what that’s like. And then placing it in your mouth and just holding it on your tongue for a moment, perhaps starting to taste it. Noticing what it feels like to have it there. And then very deliberately biting into it, and noticing which teeth do the biting and the chewing. Noticing the movement of your jaw muscles. Perhaps you’re already noticing the urge to swallow it, yes?
MELISSA ADAMSKI: Definitely. Yeah.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: So just keep chewing it. Noticing where you taste it the most on your tongue. Noticing if you taste the sweet and the sour on different parts of your tongue, or if that’s just a myth. And then, when you’re ready, very deliberately choosing to swallow it, and noticing what happens in your mouth as you do that. The movement of the tongue. Perhaps you can follow the blueberry down the back of your throat, down into your stomach. And now something else that’s really important with mindfulness eating. Just take a moment now to savour the experience. So perhaps just, with your eyes open or closed, just enjoying the aftertaste.
Really noticing how, even though you’ve finished eating it, that the experience is still there, the taste of it, so you can continue enjoying it even after you’ve swallowed it, rather than rushing on to the next bit of food, or the next activity. So that’s mindful eating. What was that like for you to eat like this?
MELISSA ADAMSKI: It was very different.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: A bit different than how you ate lunch, right?
RICHARD CHAMBERS: Yes, exactly. It really gave me the opportunity to appreciate the flavour a lot more, and the food itself. So I think that the food had a lot more of an intense flavour. And especially when you take the time to smell it first, and savour it about to go into your mouth, so the anticipation of eating it.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: Anticipating it.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: And did you notice how your body was preparing itself to digest it before you put it in the mouth?
RICHARD CHAMBERS: That’s got to be good for the health, right?
MELISSA ADAMSKI: Definitely. And even when it was in the mouth and taking the time to chew it, having it in the mouth a lot longer, the flavour was that much more intense.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: Yes. And what about savouring it rather than rushing on to the next thing? What did you notice when you really savoured it?
MELISSA ADAMSKI: That I feel more satisfied. That I might not need to have as many to get that same flavour hit.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: Yes. And so you might just wonder what it would be like to be eat a bit more mindfully. Maybe we wouldn’t eat all of our meals like that. That might get a little bit impractical.
MELISSA ADAMSKI: Take a while, wouldn’t it?
RICHARD CHAMBERS: And weird, to be honest. But what would it be like to bring 10% of that to our next meal, or to all of our meals, and to use them as an opportunity to practise mindfulness, and also just to notice the body and the senses and to fully enjoy eating everything that we eat?
MELISSA ADAMSKI: Especially, I think that smelling of the food and that anticipation of eating, and putting it up in front of your face, and waiting before actually taking that first bite can really help you savour that flavour and taste the food that you’re eating. And even though we might not use it with every food that we eat, even just using it the times when, perhaps, we’re most unmindful throughout the day with our food.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: Mid-afternoon, perhaps.
MELISSA ADAMSKI: Mid-afternoon at work, or after dinner in front of the telly.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: In front of the telly.
MELISSA ADAMSKI: Yeah. So that’s where you can start to bring these practises in and they can help you reduce your portion sizes or change your dietary habits.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: Yeah, and just enjoy eating more.
MELISSA ADAMSKI: Yeah. Yeah, bring back the joy of food, the flavour, the tastes.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: And so what was that like for you? Perhaps you might like to reflect on your own experience of doing that, whether you did notice something about your body, or did enjoy eating the food more, or perhaps really got more out of it through savouring. And you might like to just bring a little bit of that to your next meal, and perhaps to all of your meals, just as a way of eating more mindfully, and bringing more mindfulness into your day-to-day life.

Watch Melissa and lead educator for Monash University’s ‘Mindfulness and Wellbeing and Peak Performance’, Richard Chambers use a dried blueberry to demonstrate mindful eating.

If you’d like to follow along, please pause the video, go and get some food for yourself, and then come back. You can then resume the video.

Talking point

If you followed along with Melissa and Richard’s demonstration, within the Comments, consider sharing with other learners your experience of mindfully eating the food you chose and the things you noticed from eating this way.

If you didn’t take part in the demonstration, how do you think the demonstration will impact the way you now think about eating your food?

Also consider reading and commenting on contributions made by other learners or following learners with similar interests as you. You can also ‘like’ comments or follow other learners throughout the course.

Filtering comments

Comments on a step can be ‘filtered’ which helps you access them in a way that’s best for you. You can do this by selecting comments by All comments, Bookmarked, Your comments or Following from the drop-down menu in the comments section of the step. You can can also sort by Newest, Oldest or Most liked.

Mentioning other learners in your comments

When replying to a comment, you can also mention other learners that are taking part in the comment thread. You can do this by entering the learner’s profile name as part of your reply. For example, @User3320607 That’s an excellent example. @User4499578 What do you think?

Please note, you can only mention others who are in the thread and cannot use the mention functionality in stand alone comments.

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Food as Medicine

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