About the Author: As a Registered Dietitian within Home Base’s Warrior Health and Fitness Program and Intensive Clinical Program, Emilie provides both individual and group nutrition counseling to veterans and their families and believes in an individualized approach to nutrition counseling and wellness to help each person achieve their goals.
Engaging one or all of our senses during only one meal per day can improve mood, stress levels, and overall well-being.
How can we learn to eat with all five senses?
Eating is a deeply rooted sensory experience, but due to culture and lifestyle choices, taking the time to sit down and be 100% present with what you are eating can be difficult. When all 5 of our senses are brought to the table, your meal/snack is transformed into a mindful meditation that not only connects you with your bodies cues/signals, but also creates a moment of peace.
Let’s look at our different senses, and how we can practice using each of them when eating meals/snacks:
SIGHT: Before starting your meal or snack, pause and look at it closely. Look for colors, textures, and the different shapes of the ingredients. Do you see steam coming off the meal? Pause and allow your eyes to settle on whatever they are drawn too naturally.
SMELL: Take a moment and close your eyes, then take one deep breath in. What do you smell? Can you distinguish the different scents? Allow the aromas to fill your body, and focus your brain onto what is in front of you. When smelling, do any specific memories come up? Allow the thoughts to flood in, and then gently come back to the present.
TOUCH: Grab the bowl, plate, or mug. Do you feel a temperature change transfer into your hands and then into your body? What thoughts/emotions come up regarding the meal you are about to eat? Pick up your utensil, is it heavy or light? If no utensils are needed, pick up the food item using your thumb and pointer finger. Allow your fingers to graze over the food, is it rough, smooth, or have ridges?
TASTE: Bring the food up to your mouth, don’t take a bite yet. Is your mouth starting to salivate? Next take a bite and chew slowly. What are you thinking about when you are chewing? Are you noticing the flavors or textures change? Once you are ready, swallow the food. Let you mouth reset before taking another bite.
HEARING: This one is best done after you finish your meal. Stay seated and put your utensils down. Place both feet flat on the floor and your hands on your thighs. Take one deep breath, and close your eyes. Listen to the sounds around you. Can you name them all?
Not only do your five senses help you connect with your food, but also with yourself and how you feel.
Using one or all your senses when eating creates awareness of how foods affect you, your emotions, and your thoughts/feelings.
We’ve got a challenge for you: Engage one or all your senses during one meal today.
Let us know how you incorporated mindful eating in your day by following us on social media @homebaseprogram and tagging #HBHealthAtHome.