There are already certain commonly used phrases that strive to remind us to do more than just satisfy hunger and quench thirst, chicken soup for the soul is one that springs immediately to mind. Those few words conjure up warmth, home comfort, rich nourishment and maternal love for me. Appreciating our food and eating mindfully is enriching and for me can also be a sensuous experience. I have always loved the anticipation of pleasure that cooking smells create, particularly as I arrive with my family at my parents home for Sunday dinner! A plateful of colour with strong greens, soft oranges and vivid reds literally makes me feel excited and I enjoy the texture and taste of the combinations I choose to load my fork with.
Early on in the mindfulness course I am attending the group were given a square of chocolate each- blueberries were offered as alternative to those who resisted the lure of chocolate. The exercise began with that distinctive snap of sound as the chocolate was broken into squares and the tear of the silver foil wrapping. We held the square of 85% chocolate in the palm of our hands, we looked gently at the contrast of colour against our skin, we noticed the markings made diagonally across the surface- I noticed the edges melting slightly from the heat from my hand, generated no doubt by my happy anticipation of the moment I could place it in my mouth. We then held the square by one corner and held it up to the light, observing the shape, differences between decorated front and smooth back, how the light fell upon the chocolate. We held it to our noses and inhaled the wonderful chocolate scent. By this time my mouth was salivating, the combination of feeding my sight and smell so slowly was building a thrill of anticipation of the delight to come. We placed the square upon our tongues, and allowed it to simply sit there to feel, to taste, to experience the chocolate. It began to melt, to create more sensations within our mouths. It was hard not to succumb to the desire to rush in and chew, but by concentrating our attention upon the square, as it sat upon our tongues it was possible to resist, and therefore enjoy a pure and simple moment of sensuous mindful eating.
I have found that by slowly down, paying attention, enjoying, savouring food in the moment that I eat less, feel more satisfied and that my digestion and body are happier. I am less likely to eat unless I am hungry and more likely to notice whether I am in fact simply thirsty.