6 Steps to Getting More Pleasure From Your Food

What’s the secret to getting more comfort, pleasure, delight and satisfaction from your food…without overindulging or feeling guilty? It’s mindful eating. Mindful eating is a conscious approach to eating. It’s paying attention — to the sensations of the food as you eat it, your reasons for eating, and how you feel before/during/after eating. It’s slowing down to chew more than usual, to smell and to pause between bites.

According to an article in the NY Times, the concept has roots in Buddhist teachings. Just as there are forms of meditation that involve sitting, How to Get More Pleasure From Your Foodbreathing, standing and walking, many Buddhist teachers encourage their students to meditate with food, expanding consciousness by paying close attention to the sensation and purpose of each morsel.

Author Thich Nhat Hanh has a compelling book, “Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life” that explains it very well.

Mindful eating isn’t a diet or about restricting. It’s about experiencing the full abundance and pleasure that’s available to you in the moment. It’s not just “eating slowly and focusing”. It’s taking note of your physical and emotional cues before, during and after the process. It’s being aware of when you’re eating due to physical hunger, and when you’re eating for other reasons (social outings, stress, loneliness, excitement, boredom, etc.). It’s practicing eating for optimal satiety, where you’re choosing foods that will provide the highest satisfaction in the moment as well as in the future.

Many people who struggle with food are in reaction mode. They’re reacting automatically to unrecognized or unexamined triggers, feelings, thoughts or mindsets. They’re “reacting”…acting out the same behaviors over and over again, all the while building a stronger habit that gets harder to change.

Here’s 6 Steps to Getting More Pleasure From Your Food:

1. Try pouring yourself a favorite hot or cold drink. Take the first 3-4 sips with full attention. What’s the flavor? Bitter, sweet, sour, tangy…? Does the temperature feel good to you?

2. Before you eat, sit down and look at your food. Is it rich in color or bland? Shiny or soft? Notice how the light hits it. Does it reflect or absorb?

3. As you get ready for the first bite, lean in to sniff your food. Breathe in the smell. This squeezes out more pleasure, because you enhance beb2your taste with smell. Does the smell seem good to you?

4. Chew. And keep chewing. Chew more than usual, count if you need to. (I aim for 20 chews or so per bite, and now it’s become natural.) Notice the flavor and extending the pleasure as long as possible.

5. Practice pausing. Put your utensil down, and pause a moment to listen to the sounds around you. Note what you are smelling. Check in with your emotions. Do you feel stressed? Rushed? Happy? Carefree? Considering your senses and emotional state grounds you before you move on to the next bite.

6. Appreciate the origin. What did it take to get your food from where it was grown or created, to being washed, processed, packaged and shipped, to being displayed to be purchased or ordered to finally sitting on your plate? How many people, animals, plants and/or time is involved in feeding you right now?

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