Mindfulness is a practice of awareness that can be applied to many areas of life including cooking and eating
Mindless eating is a common practice among all people. For those in recovery, mindful eating can prevent bingeing or unhealthy eating.
- Plate your food in a presentable way: Eating out of the bags, cartons, or containers of our favourite foods can lead to an episode of binging or not eating as we are supposed to. Plating food makes eating an occasion to be celebrated instead of a chore or a coping mechanism, which can be triggering for some people.
- Use your sense to notice food as your prepare it: As you prepare your meal, use your sense to notice the food you are cooking. Have you ever truly noticed the vibrant colours of fruits and vegetables or the way they respond to the knife? What is your favourite part about the food you are preparing? What are you most excited to taste first? Anticipating eating by using your senses during preparation builds saliva in your mouth which helps break down food for better digestion and feeling more full.
- Pay attention to the sensations of eating the food: Chew your food slowly in order to pay attention to how it feels to eat the food. How have the textures of the food changed? Is there a textural sensation you prefer over others? What flavour sensations do you like the most? Does eating these foods bring memories to mind?
- Notice the way you feel preparing and eating your food: Preparing and eating your own food is a self-care exercise as well as a way to build confidence. Many people enjoy the art of cooking, but many do not. Do you like cooking food? Does it make you feel more confident to prepare and eat food on your own?
- Lay down your utensils after taking each bite: Research has found that holding onto your utensils while you eat makes the mind anticipate the next bite rather than appreciate the current bite. Be present with the food you are eating to fully digest it.
- Tune into your stomach and take a deep breath: When you think you might be getting full, turn your awareness to your stomach and take some deep breaths. You will notice more clearly if you are still hungry or if you are full. If you are still hungry try to notice what is causing your hunger. Do you want to taste more of the food? Do you need to eat more? Are you eating to cope?
- Clean up your cooking space completely: Completing the process of preparing and eating food can help your stomach feel more settled. Having more to clean up later can cause stress which could trigger unnecessary hunger. Instead, completely cleaning up your cooking space finishes the process until it is time to prepare the next meal.