By Shelby Mocherman, LMSW, KC Healthy Kids
Mindful eating is a habit that can help kids and adults slow down and listen to their bodies. Listening to our bodies helps us know when our bellies feel full or if they are "out of fuel." It also helps us better understand what types of foods our bodies like and need. Mindful eating can encourage kids to develop lifelong healthy eating habits, focus , and emotional regulation when practiced regularly.
In his 2017 article, Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat, Joseph B. Nelson says mindful eating means using all of our five senses and paying attention to our food on purpose, moment by moment, and without judgment.
How Do We Practice Mindful Eating?
To practice mindful eating, we can think about where our food comes from (source) and explore each of our senses (sound, sights, touch, smell, taste), while eating purposefully. Try asking these questions at snack or meal times.
Source: Encourage kids to think about where their food comes from. (Think about how the food got from the farm to our plate. Imagine who put the seed in the ground and made sure it got the water and sun it needed.)
Sound: What does it sound like when we are preparing this food? Is our food making any sounds before we get ready to eat? (Think "sizzles in the pan.")
Sight: What does the food look like? What colors and shapes do we see? (Maybe a purple eggplant with flecks of white.)
Touch: How does this food feel in our hands? What is the texture of this food? Before chewing, how does this food feel on our tongue? (Such as a piece of lettuce that feels cold and crunchy.)
Smell: What does our food smell like? Is it a familiar smell, or a new smell? (Something smells sweet, like warm spices!)
Taste: How does this food taste? Does the taste change as you chew it? What happens in your body as you eat the food? (At first it tastes salty, but perhaps there is a bitter after taste.)
These kinds of serve-and-return interactions have a positive impact that can last a lifetime.
Photos: Kids tried sweet pea shoots and rustic bread during a mindful eating activity at the Eat Local & Organic Expo in April.