What is it?

 

Eating mindfully is about being aware of the food you are consuming. Noticing the different flavours, textures and smells of the food and your thoughts and feelings that arise from eating the food. For example, the food you’re eating may remind you of a past holiday which makes you feel happy.

Monks and nuns of plum village sitting down ready to begin mindful eating

Mindful eating is not just about the taste of the food but also the journey it’s taken to reach your plate.

In Plum Village before every meal the recitation “‘in this food I see clearly the presence of the entire universe supporting my existence’ is spoken, as the act of eating is combined with the appreciation for all living things

 

Mindless Eating

It can be easy to get consumed in your thoughts whilst eating. Sometimes you barely remember what you had for breakfast as you were busy thinking about the day ahead rather than the piece of toast you were putting in your mouth.

Thich Nhat Hanh observes that those who eat mindlessly are ‘eating’ their future plans, rather than eating the food in front of them.

Thich Nhat Hanh quote - drink your tea

By being present when eating our meal, we recognise the gift of food we have received and in return offer our attention as a token of respect.

 

A Short Guide

This 4-step guide introduces the main elements of mindful eating which can be gradually incorporated into your mealtimes.

  1. REFLECT

Take a moment to think about the food you are about to eat, your surroundings and your hunger. Are you very hungry or only a little bit?

This moment creates your awareness of the food you are about to eat which helps you in becoming present during the act of eating.

  1. RELOCATE

Move away from the TV and put away any electronic devices or distractions. By deliberately moving away from things that would otherwise take our attention we are marking the beginning of a meal and a new experience, allowing you to give your full attention to eating.

  1. FEEL

Acknowledge your thoughts and how your body is feeling, by paying attention to your body when eating you are less likely to over-eat. Do not feel obliged to finish everything on your plate, instead learn to incorporate left overs into your next meal.

  1. BE SILENT

Every now again (maybe once a week) try eating in silence. This meditative act gives you a break from the happenings of the day and brings you back to yourself.

To watch a short video of Thich Nhat Hanh introducing mindful eating click here.