Step by Step through a Mindful Meal
Yesterday, we looked at how we can change our environment to make it easier to be a mindful eater. Today, we will go through a mindful meal step by step.
Do you know how long it takes for your stomach to tell your brain it’s full?
It takes 20 minutes. But what happens if we finish a meal in ten minutes? Our brain hasn’t got any fullness signals, so it may keep seeking food. This might mean you go back for seconds and end up eating more than you need. So, have at least 20-30 minutes available to enjoy your meal. Any less, and you will be rushing to eat/finish your food.
Let’s use this as a starting point for our mindful meal. Try the below steps to guide you through your next meal.
Before your meal:
1. Ensure you have 20-30 minutes available to enjoy your meal.
2. Check where you are on the Hunger Scale.
3. Consider how you are feeling before your meal. If you are stressed, angry, or experiencing an intense emotion, this will probably affect what you eat or how much you eat. If possible, deal with the intense emotion before eating.
4. Sit at a table with no distractions.
During your meal:
1. Slowly enjoy each bite of your food. If you normally eat quickly, try playing a game in your head that you have to be the last to finish your meal at the table.
2. Put your cutlery down in between each bite of your food. This will force you to stop and enjoy the food in your mouth.
3. Pause at around ten minutes, and consider where you are on the Hunger Scale. Are you satisfied? Have you eaten enough?
4. If you are finding it hard to be mindful, try looking at all the different elements on the plate or in the bowl. Imagine where each came from: Who grew those vegetables? Where did the pasta come from? How did the plate come to sit on the table? What was the chef thinking as they spread butter onto your sandwich? This is also a nice way to appreciate your food and remind you of the effort that has gone into providing you nourishment. Use this as a chance to give gratitude to being able to enjoy this meal.
After your meal:
1. Sit for a moment or two and let yourself relax.
2. Think about where you are on the Hunger Scale. You should be at a 6 (or maybe just into the 7). If there is still food on your plate, that’s okay. You don’t need to finish it right now. Your leftovers will still be there if you want to finish them later. Put your leftovers out of sight, and get on with your day.
3. If your plate is empty and you want more food, sit for a moment and see how long your meal has been. Wait until the 20 minutes pass, and check in with yourself. Are you still hungry?
4. Get more food if you still identify signs of hunger.
5. If you are not hungry but still want more to eat (maybe it tasted good!), let yourself know you can come back and have another helping later. It will still be there. Distract yourself, and the feelings of wanting more food will go away.
Using everything you have learned so far, you may fully enjoy a mindful meal. Take a mental note of everything you are doing, and notice how your meal is more satisfying and how you are more relaxed.
Tomorrow: We will tackle cravings and how they can impact our efforts to be mindful.
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