Bringing Mindfulness to Your Meals

Girl eating nachos

As we come out of the busy holiday season it can be a good time to slow down and bring attention and awareness back to our food and eating. There are several ways to bring mindfulness to the eating experience, including the One Minute Taste Test and sensory evaluation.

The One Minute Taste Test

For a quick and fun way to reconnect to the eating experience, try the One Minute Taste Test by following the steps below.

  1. Before a meal or snack, take a minute to make sure your attention and senses are available. Some easy ways to do this are:
    1. Take a quick scan around the room. Can you notice the details of what you see? The colors of a picture or light fixture? The texture or variations in the paint or wallpaper?
    2. The Four Senses Scan. Notice one thing you see, one thing you hear, one thing you feel, and one thing you smell.
  2. Now that you are aware of your current surroundings, begin eating. Take the first minute to be open and curious about what the eating experience of that food or meal is. Pretend you have never seen or eaten that food before. After a minute of carefully paying attention to the sight, smell, taste, and texture of what you’re eating, go ahead with the rest of the meal. Notice if anything feels new, different or interesting about the snack or meal experience.

Sensory Evaluation Experiment

Looking for something more structured or systematic? The simple form below (under Sensory Evaluation Experiment Example) can be used to support a more in-depth evaluation of the eating experience. **Please note that this experience can be triggering or uncomfortable for individuals who struggle with judgments about food and eating. It would be best to consult with your individual support professional prior to attempting.

  1. Prepare your meal/snack and have it laid out on a table where you can also take notes (see below for an example of what notes to take).
  2. Use the techniques described in the One Minute Taste Test to bring your attention to the present moment, perhaps taking a little more time to also become aware of your emotional state, thoughts, feelings and internal sense of hunger or fullness.
  3. Once ready, begin eating, slowly taking bites. Take time to notice all of the qualities listed, making brief notes about each.
  4. If possible, continue this investigation until you are finished eating. Once done, notice your physical and emotional state, making a note of those as well.

Sensory Evaluation Experiment Example

Name of the food or dish:

What do you observe in terms of the…

  • Sight:
  • Feel:
  • Smell:
  • Sound:
  • Taste:
    • The initial taste on your tongue:
    • The taste with chewing:
    • The taste after swallowing:

What was the reason that you stopping eating this when you did?

What physical sensation(s) are you aware of currently?

What is your physical state after eating this dish or food?

What is your emotional state after eating this dish or food?

By using either of the above experiential exercises, you bring awareness to your eating and your experience of the food and eating process. By utilizing these exercises, you can bring a fuller experience to eating and nourish all of your senses.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Hilmar Wagner headshot

Hilmar Wagner, MPH, RDN, CD

Hilmar Wagner is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist (RDN) and Certified Dietitian (CD) in the state of Washington. Hilmar joined the Emily Program in 2006, and currently serves as the Training Coordinator for Nutrition Services and Clinical Outreach Specialist. In this role he initiates and coordinates training of new dietetic staff, dietetic interns and continuing education for nutrition services for all Emily Program locations. He has presented on a wide range of nutrition topics at local, regional and national conferences. Hilmar received his Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition/Dietetics and Master’s in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Minnesota. He has worked in the field of eating disorders for the past 12 years. Hilmar has extensive experience working with clients of all eating disorder diagnoses in both individual and group settings. He has a particular interest in mindfulness and body-centered approaches to eating disorder recovery.

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