I think it’s safe to say that we all wish we could eat mindfully at every meal and snack. I mean, I know for me, when I’m truly doing the mindful eating thing and am totally, 100 percent checked into what I’m noshing on, I enjoy my food more, have extra energy and generally just feel more relaxed — more alive even. While following this hunger and fullness chart definitely helps me to do that, whenever I need an extra dose of mindful-eating awareness, I love to pull out this trick: the Five-Minute Chocolate Meditation.
Yes, I said chocolate meditation. (And the crowd goes wild!)
Here’s how it works (we also detail this in our book!) …
How to Do the Five-Minute Chocolate Meditation for Mindful Eating
1. Get your supplies. You’ll need a small high-quality piece of dark chocolate (a square of Dove dark chocolate works well for this), a timer set to five minutes and a quiet space.
2. Begin your timer and then unwrap your chocolate. For the first minute, just unwrap the chocolate and then sit there with it in your hand. Look at it. Smell it. Take a few deep breaths. Check in with yourself: how are you feeling? Don’t judge your feelings; just be curious and aware of them.
3. Savor the chocolate … slowly. For the rest of the five minutes, take itty bitty bites of the chocolate, letting it melt in your mouth and seeing how it tastes on the different parts of your tongue. Slow down as much as possible, breathe and really focus on the experience of eating the chocolate. See if you can pick up any more nuanced flavors in the chocolate, too. (Vanilla, coffee, floral notes?) If other thoughts pop into your brain, acknowledge them and then come back to that freakin’ delicious chocolate you’re enjoying.
4. Check in for lessons learned. When your timer goes off, ask yourself what you learned. Were you surprised at how hard it was to eat the piece of chocolate in five minutes? Or how easy it was? When doing it, did you feel anxious (like, you wanted to eat it all right away?) or zen (like, who knew you could eat so little chocolate and feel so fulfilled)? Don’t judge the emotions that came up for you, just be aware of them and then ask what they can teach you about yourself and your relationship with food. This is a fantastic way to see how food affects our emotions (sometimes even unconsciously) — and to get a new perspective on what it takes to really satisfy a craving.
5. Practice, practice, practice. If you do this regularly, it can really help you be be more mindful when you eat. And, really, doing this daily — say after lunch or dinner as a treat — can be super duper helpful for preventing overeating and even reducing stress. Not to mention it’s a meditative form of self-love and totally fun! And don’t beat yourself up if you ate the whole piece of chocolate before the five minutes was up. Just try it again tomorrow … and tomorrow … and tomorrow. (Yes, I just told you to eat chocolate every day.)
Oh, and if chocolate isn’t your jam, you can try this mindful-eating trick with pretty much any small portion of food! It’s especially good to try on foods you can’t seem to get enough of (for me, that’s ice cream and sometimes pizza). But, it’s pretty darn enlightening when you do this a few times and realize just how little of something it actually takes to feel fulfilled. After those first few little nibbles or bites, the taste and experience just isn’t as rich or strong for me, so it’s easy to be done and feel totally satisfied. For reals!
Have any other mindful eating tricks? I’m another big fan of eating on beautiful dishes. For some reason that makes me tune in more to my food and makes my meal more of an experience to savor, not scarf down! —Jenn