When you think about mindfulness exercises, you probably don’t think about the kind of exercise that helps you lose weight. But thankfully, there’s one new approach to mindfulness, which actually helps you slim down as you ‘wake up’! It’s called the meditation diet.
We first heard about the meditation diet from Leo Babauta and the folks over at ZenHabits. “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” Leo put this proverb into practice and in a few years, he lost over 60 pounds.
If you think about it, we often eat while watching TV, reading, or talking with people, and we don’t really pay attention to our food. Without realizing it, we can end up eating out of habit when we’re not really hungry, or maybe we eat because we’re lonely, bored, or depressed.
A ‘Meditation diet’ helps change this by adding the ritual of eating to our toolbox of mindfulness exercises. Learn to savor the taste, feel the nourishment and appreciate the work that went into producing the food on your plate – all while eating healthier and losing weight!
6 Mindfulness Exercises & The Meditation Diet
To get started on your Meditation Diet, I recommend you try Leo’s 6 mindfulness exercises below:
1. Create space. Too often eating is multitasked with reading or working or driving or watching. Create some space for the eating meditation — clear away everything else, and just do one thing. Just eat.
2. Put your food in front of you, and consider it. The food you choose doesn’t matter — it can be food you already eat on a regular basis, or you can consider a handful of berries, a carrot, some broccoli, some raw almonds or walnuts. Sit down with the food in front of you, and look at it. Notice its color, texture, imperfections. Smell it.
3. Think about its origins. Take a moment to think about where this food came from — is it from another continent, or somewhere in your area? How did it get to you? Who grew it, picked it, transported it, prepared it? What animal gave its life and suffered for your pleasure and health? Be grateful for all of this.
4. Taste it. One bite at a time, put the food in your mouth and savor its taste and texture. Is it crunchy, soft, chewy, grainy, syrupy? Is it earthy, sweet, floral, salty, spicy, oaky, citrus-y, grassy, herbal, mossy, tangy, tannin-y? Think too about what has been added to the food — chemicals, salt, sugar, fat? How does the food make you feel? Consider what nutrients the food is giving you, how it is nourishing you.
5. Notice your heart. What do you feel as you eat? Are you hungry, stressed, sad, happy, hurt, angry, afraid, confused, lonely, bored, impatient?
6. Pause between bites. Don’t pick up the next bite as you chew. Just stay with one bite, then swallow. Breathe. Enjoy the space. Then repeat the process for the next bite.”
At first, practice this once a day, and then gradually increase your diet until you practice these six mindfulness exercises every time you snack, eat a meal, or have a drink.
What do you think of meditation as a diet method? If you’ve tried mindful eating before, we’d love to hear about your experience.
By Bhakti Om