This post was featured on TODAY Parenting Team‘s site.
Mommy, can we watch TV during dinner tonight? How often do you hear these words in your house?
Instead of giving in, next time try to resist this request because eating mindfully as a family offers so many benefits including stress reduction, maintaining healthy diet habits, and improving our relationships.
What Is Mindful Eating?
According to the Center for Mindful Eating, this practice allows us to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that can come from preparing and eating food. Instead of shoving food into our mouths and never really thinking about it, mindful eating awakens us to an entirely new experience with food. We can take a moment to savor and truly enjoy what we are eating.
How Children Can Learn Mindful Eating
We can introduce some simple activities at meal time so that our children can begin to slow down and eat mindfully.
- Invite your children to help prepare a meal. Talk to them about the changes in foods when they are cooked, such as boiling pasta.
- Make sure to eat together as a family at the kitchen table and engage in mindful conversation.
- Ask children to use their five senses to describe the food on their plates: color, texture, smell, taste, sounds as they chew.
- Talk about where the food comes from, such as farming or fishing. This is a great opportunity to address environmental and labor issues.
- Lead a mindful eating exercise. Here are some examples you can adapt to any food:
Remember These Five Steps
During the Mrs. Mindfulness Summit, Dr. Susan Albers of the Cleveland Clinic, an expert on mindful eating, suggested a five-step program for changing the way we eat. She gave a clever quote for each step so we can easily remember them.
- Sit down: “Only eat off your feet”
- Chew slowly: “Pace, don’t race”
- Savor food and take mindful bites: “We eat…just eat”
- Simplify and place healthy foods in accessible places: “In sight in mind, out of sight out of mind”
- Smile between each bite and take a pause: “Take a breath to manage stress”
How have you incorporated mindful eating into your family meals? Please let us know in the comment section.