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What Is Mindful Eating – And Why Does It Matter?

Unless you’ve been living on a desert island, you’ll probably have noticed the growing conversation around mindfulness over the last few years. With the rise in popularity of apps like Headspace and Calm, and various books popping up on the topic, it’s hard to ignore.

There’s a good reason for this trend!

With many of us living and working in busy urban environments and today’s ‘always on’ world, finding time to slow down and pause is more important than ever. And this includes when it comes to eating.

So what is mindful eating?

It’s about eating with attention and focus, turning off your screens, and appreciating what’s on your plate. It's an ancient form of meditation and is included in many modern meditation programmes too.

One of the best foods to experience the full impact of eating in this way is with good dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is full to the brim with aromas and flavours that develop as they sit in your mouth. In fact, tasting mindfully is pretty much the same as tasting chocolate like the professionals!

So often we’re rushing through mouthfuls, squeezing in meals around laptops or have our eye on one (or two) screens as we chew.

Well, the bad news is that eating this way isn’t great for your digestion. It also means you’re eating, and sometimes living, too much in a ‘fight or flight’ mode, rather than being in a ‘rest and digest’ state.

And you’re missing out on the many layers of taste that are only apparent when you slow down a little.

What are the benefits of mindful eating?

Eating, or tasting, mindfully isn’t just about what happens on your tongue as taste involves all your senses. Eating this way is an opportunity to get more centred and connected with your body. It’s a chance to breathe and really listen to how your body is responding. It’s also about (re)discovering the delight of simple tastes, aromas and flavours.

How to try mindful eating for yourself

  1. Spend a little time looking at the food you’re about to eat. What do you notice about the colours and textures?
  2. Maybe touch the food, paying attention to how it feels against your fingers. Listen to sounds it makes; it might sizzle, crackle or bubble, or maybe snap when you cut or break it.
  3. Lean over you plate, gently breathing in the aromas, taking note of what you smell and how it makes you feel.
  4. Take a small bite, chewing slowly. Notice how your mouth feels, being curious about the developing flavours and taste, and the feel of the food as it slips down your throat.
  5. Repeat for at least 5 minutes allowing yourself the gift of time to really enjoy your food and all its tastes.

Meredith has made getting started with mindful eating easy for you, by creating these dark chocolate tasting kits - take a look:

Meredith is the chocolate making founder of Food At Heart. She trained as a meditation teacher with the British School Of Meditation and runs meditation and slow tasting workshops, using chocolate to bring mindful eating and living to life.

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