Mindful Eating is Easy to Incorporate into Meals
Mindful eating is being present with a meal, savoring all aspects of the food, and removing judgment to experience it while you stay in tune with your body. This can be a confusing concept to explain to a child because they are born intuitive eaters. As parents, we can support them to strengthen their skills and enjoy mindful eating by showing not telling. Here are five ways to get started with mindful eating.
- Start a meal with gratitude or prayer. Depending on which feels better to you, say a prayer to give thanks and allow the meal to be a spiritual experience or express gratitude for how the meal got on the on the plate. Think about all who contributed from the farmers to the grocery store to those who cooked the meal. Ask them to participate by sharing how they think the food got to their plate.
- Take the first minute of a meal and eat in silence. Ask them to chew slowly and enjoy their food. Then ask them to describe how the food tastes. If they get stuck give them some description words like sweet, salty, crunchy, etc to pick from. Want to download a worksheet to help, click here.
- Do a special mindful eating experience with a dessert they love. This would be outside of the meal time so that the goal is not to eat until they are full but to see how to eat sweets for taste and pleasure but not until fullness. You will be surprised that they may even realize they don’t like some sweets they ate faster before. Along with the worksheet, there is a video example of this with my daughter.
- Let kids leave food on their plate. The clean the plate club can lead them to not trust their bodies. If you are worried if they will want food later, save their dinner or have two snack options from a list you approve of and know will give them the nutrition they need.
- Keep the discussions fun or don’t be afraid to eat in silence. Avoiding discussion that may be stressful or create emotions like anger or frustration until after mealtime. This is important so meals are not tied to emotions that are common for emotional eaters. When our mind is stressed, angry, or sad it can affect our gut and how we digest the foods.
Special Note to Parents
These are suggestions you can incorporate and please give yourself grace. Pick the option that feels good for you. You don’t need to follow them all or worry if something you were doing is the opposite of the suggestions. This is a no judgment zone where we give tips and hope you will stay open to trying different exercises in your home to see what works best.