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Mindful eating: Discretionary foods

Watch Melissa and Richard Chambers discuss how you can apply a mindful eating approach to discretionary foods.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: Melissa, mindful eating doesn’t just mean eating so-called healthy foods all the time.
MELISSA ADAMSKI: No, no, not at all.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: Because it also makes a lot of sense to bring mindfulness to the times that we eat occasional foods, or what do you call them in the business?
MELISSA ADAMSKI: Discretionary foods.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: Discretionary foods. That’s right. Because it makes sense if we’re going to eat something that’s very sugary or salty, we’d want to bring our full attention to it and enjoy it as much as possible, as well as notice the effect that it has on the body.
MELISSA ADAMSKI: That’s right.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: And of course, we could do the same thing with drinks, you know? Maybe if we’re having soft drinks or even alcohol, we probably want to make sure that we really enjoy every sip and get the most out of it, as well as noticing the effect that it has on us. And so, once again, here we’ve got a plate of discretionary foods. And we’re going to do some mindful eating again. Right? Again, so just tuning into your body, noticing how your body is feeling. And again, just getting a sense of how hungry you are and using that information. Now, having a look at the different foods on the plate here.
And again, just which one do you naturally feel like you really want to eat right now?
MELISSA ADAMSKI: As somebody who really loves chocolate, I’m naturally going for the Tim Tam.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: The Tim Tam. So take one of the Tim Tams. Incidentally, a Tim Tam is a classic Australian biscuit. And now we’re going to use all of the senses to eat this. So just holding it, again, where you can see it and really taking it in. So just looking at it, noticing the colour if it. You can sort of see how it’s been put together. Yeah. So–
MELISSA ADAMSKI: It smells good.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: So smell it. Just start to take in the smell. Notice what that’s like in your body, the effect that has. And now, place it at your lips and just anticipate biting it. And I want you to just really anticipate it and notice what happens in your body as you do that. That salivation. Something happening in your stomach. What are you noticing?
MELISSA ADAMSKI: It’s telling me to eat it.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: It’s telling you– [LAUGHTER] OK. So very deliberately, with all of your attention, just taking a bite. Just taking a bite out of it. Noticing that crunch, the texture of it. And as you start to chew it, noticing which teeth are doing the biting. Noticing what it tastes like. The texture, the crunch, the smoothness of the chocolate. So really exploring it with the senses. Enjoying it as much as you can, bringing your full attention to it.
MELISSA ADAMSKI: It’s interesting letting it dissolve in your mouth, because usually you just take a bite, crunch, crunch, and swallow.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: And then take another one.
MELISSA ADAMSKI: But now, moving it around, it sort of dissolves and a lot more of the flavours–
MELISSA ADAMSKI: –pass over your tongue.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: So you start to notice new things. So seeing how much you can notice about that bite as you continue chewing. And then, when you’re ready, very deliberately choosing to swallow it. So noticing what happens in your mouth as you do that, the movement of your tongue. Following it right down the back of your throat, into your stomach. Again, remembering to savour it. So you might even close your eyes, and just taking some time to really enjoy the sweetness, the aftertaste. And notice how if we don’t rush on to the next Tim Tam or the next experience or the next activity, you can actually continue to enjoy the taste of it even after you’ve swallowed it.
The sweetness, the whatever is still going on for you.
MELISSA ADAMSKI: It lingers a lot, the taste.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: Yeah. So hang out with that. Linger with that taste, and just let yourself fully enjoy that single bite of a Tim Tam.
MELISSA ADAMSKI: It’s stretching a lot further than I would have thought is possible.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: Probably. Yeah. It’s very different, isn’t it, to how we might eat– if I gave you a pack of Tim Tams and put a movie on–
RICHARD CHAMBERS: –it would probably be a very different experience, wouldn’t it?
MELISSA ADAMSKI: I probably would have eaten two or three Tim Tams in the same amount of time.
MELISSA ADAMSKI: And still probably be wanting one more. But–
MELISSA ADAMSKI: –after doing it like this, that one bite was quite sustaining. The flavour is very intense.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: And you feel quite satisfied from that. Yeah. So this is a way of, obviously, perhaps maybe eating less. But maybe even more importantly, really fully enjoying it. Getting the most out of it. So it’s not like we shouldn’t eat this. But if we’re going to do it, we might as well enjoy it, right?
MELISSA ADAMSKI: And many people find these foods sort of pleasurable foods, in a way. They’re very satisfying. They really enjoy them. So to have them gone in a second is very disappointing. So stretching out the enjoyment is a good thing.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: And so that might be a really good principle to keep in mind next time you’re eating discretionary food or drink, just to notice your body and the effect that it has on your body, and also to really let yourself enjoy it as much as you can, as fully as possible. And just notice the effect that that has.

Watch Melissa and lead educator for Monash University’s ‘Mindfulness and Wellbeing and Peak Performance’, Richard Chambers discuss how you can apply a mindful eating approach to discretionary foods.

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