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A Mindful Meal by Dr. Sally Nazari

Did you know that mindful eating can help you keep your weight loss goals, build your confidence and get more out of your lunch hours and dinner dates? Mindful eating helps us build a better relationship with our eating habits, the way we consume our food and its impact on not just our bodies, but also our mood.

If you find yourself nervous about large gatherings that include lavish meals, consider some benefits of mindful eating that can help ensure you feel your best:

􀁴􀀁 Mindful eating helps you appreciate food more, so you eat less

􀁴􀀁 Mindful eating reverses the emotional eating habit

􀁴􀀁 Mindfulness interrupts the relationship between thoughts and unconscious, automatic eating behaviors

􀁴􀀁 Mindfulness undercuts common states of mind that lead to eating

Here is a brief mindful eating exercise you can try for any meal or snack.

􀁴􀀁 Find a small piece of food, such as a raisin or nut, or a small cookie. You can use any food that you like. Eating with mindfulness is not about deprivation or rules.

􀁴􀀁 Begin by exploring this little piece of food, using as many of your senses as possible.

􀁴􀀁 First, look at the food. Notice its texture. Notice its color.

􀁴􀀁 Now, close your eyes, and explore the food with your sense of touch. What does this food feel like? Is it hard or soft? Grainy or sticky? Moist or dry?

􀁴􀀁 Notice that you’re not being asked to think, but just to notice different aspects of your experience, using one sense at a time. This is what it means to eat mindfully.

􀁴􀀁 Before you eat, explore this food with your sense of smell. What do you notice?

􀁴􀀁 Now, begin eating. No matter how small the bite of food you have, take at least two bites to finish it.

􀁴􀀁 Take your first bite. Please chew very slowly, noticing the actual sensory experience of chewing and tasting. Remember, you don’t need to think about your food to experience it. You might want to close your eyes for a moment to focus on the sensations of chewing and tasting.

􀁴􀀁 Notice the texture of the food, the way it feels in your mouth.

􀁴􀀁 Notice if the intensity of its flavor changes moment to moment.

􀁴􀀁 Take about 20 more seconds to very slowly finish this first bite of food, being aware of the simple sensations of chewing and tasting. (It isn’t always necessary to eat slowly in order to eat with mindfulness. But it’s helpful at first to slow down, in order to be as mindful as you can.)

􀁴􀀁 Now, take your second and last bite.

􀁴􀀁 As before, chew very slowly, while paying close attention to the actual sensory experience of eating, the sensations and movements of chewing, the flavor of the food as it changes and the sensations of swallowing.

􀁴􀀁 Just pay attention, moment by moment.

Using a mindfulness eating exercise on a regular basis is only one part of a mindfulness approach to your diet. The liberating power of mindfulness takes deeper effect when you begin to pay mindful attention to your thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations, all of which lead us to eat. Mindfulness and awareness are the foundations that many people are often missing when striving to overcome food cravings, addictive eating, binge eating, emotional eating and stress eating.

Sally Nazari, PsyD is a licensed psychologist, Usui Reiki Master Teacher and Jikiden Reiki practitioner providing individual, group, couples and family therapy in Nyack. She also offers Mindfulness Matters, an 8 session group. Her interactive and solution-focused approach highlights compassionate understanding to help people work through personal life issues. For additional information on the services she offers or to schedule an appointment, call 236- 5612 or visit DrSallyNazari.com.

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