Mindful Food and the Power of Orange Peel

01.02.2019 |

Episode #7 of the course Mindfulness: Self-care for daily life by Dr. Kimberlee Bethany Bonura


Welcome back.

Yesterday, we fixed your posture. Now, let’s fix your plate!


Tangerine Time

Sometimes, when you’re rushed, you eat while doing other things: an apple at your desk, a handful nuts while you drive, or the junk food in front of the television. Many foods make it easy to multitask while you eat.

But the beautiful tangerine forces you to stop. Because you cannot peel one while doing other things. You cannot peel a tangerine with one hand, it requires you to use both. And so, the tangerine—or the clementine or even a regular orange—is a wonderful opportunity to approach your snack as a moment of mindfulness. And that’s what we’re going to do right now. We’re going to take some time for tangerines.

Get a tangerine and hold it in your hands. Just stop for a moment and focus on your senses. Focus on touch: Feel the rough bumpy peel of the tangerine in your hands. Now, lift it up to your nose and notice the scent, the aroma. Research indicates that the smell of citrus promotes a feeling of calm [1]. So, now you’re engaging relaxation through multiple tracks: through your sense of smell and through your deliberate choice to stop and peel a tangerine.

As we smell the tangerine, inhale. Hold the scent and just relax. Breathe in and out. Feel a sense of calm. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Just breathe.

Now, we’ll begin to peel the tangerine. Historically, religious traditions have used spirals to induce calm, reflection, and relaxation. Think about rosary beads, mandalas, and circular labyrinths for walks. Research indicates that a sense of roundness creates pattern, creates calm, and supports relaxation [2]. As you peel, instead of ripping off pieces, try to peel in a slow, deliberate spiral. Move around the tangerine. Use the focus on peeling this tangerine as a way to concretely focus your thoughts. You are here, now, with the aroma of citrus and the slow, deliberate, circular task of peeling. This is your entire focus. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Just breathe.

And now, we have a peeled tangerine and you’re going to eat it. You’re not going to inhale it or rush it. You’re going to slowly, purposefully, intently eat your tangerine. You’re going to think about why these were always placed in Christmas stockings—because a burst of orange, the bright smell of citrus, and the vibrant healing power of Vitamin C in the middle of a dark, cold winter is a small contained miracle. You’re going to eat this small, contained, vibrant, fragrant, sweet miracle, one wedge at a time, actually feeling the burst of juice and tasting the balance of sweet and sour. Enjoy the tangerine. Meditate on the tangerine. Let this moment—this brief, five-minute snack—be an opportunity for refuge in the middle of your day. Take time for the tangerine.


Mindfulness-Based Eating

If you really want to transform your relationship with food, let go of dieting. Mindful eating allows you to appreciate the food you are eating and to stop eating when you should be dealing with your emotions. Research indicates that when we approach our food mindfully, we are less likely to engage in binge eating or emotional eating [3]. Other research indicates that mindfulness-based approaches are effective for reducing weight and improving eating behaviors among individuals who struggle with being overweight and obesity [4]. Mindfulness-based eating isn’t about changing what you eat, it’s about changing how you eat. It’s about changing how you think and feel about food, taking time to appreciate the food you eat, and recognizing when you’re full so you stop eating. Mindfulness-based eating can be transformative as a way to empower you to stop dieting and feel good about your relationship with food.

Feeling good about your relationship with the various aspects of your life—your diet, your exercise, your sleep—that is ultimately what self-care is all about. Tomorrow, we’ll focus on how you can apply mindfulness-based self-care in your chores and your relationships.



[1] Effects of Olfactory Stimulation from the Fragrance of the Japanese Citrus Fruit Yuzu (Citrus junos Sieb. ex Tanaka) on Mood States and Salivary Chromogranin A as an Endocrinologic Stress Marker

[2] Why Do We Find Circles so Beautiful?

[3] Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Obesity-Related Eating Behaviors

[4] Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Weight Loss


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