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Eating Issues

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STOP—Four Mindful Bites

Mindfulness is the practice where you focus on emotions, thoughts, and sensations in the moment. Mindful eating applies this practice to food, focusing on the emotions, thoughts, sensations, and stimulations that occur during food choice, preparation, eating, and after we have eaten. This can help you eat more healthfully. It is possible to be learn to be mindful of every bite of every meal. A good start is to use the first four bites of any meal to devote to attention to food. This method is known as the STOP method. Think of it as stopping to focus on mindfulness.

Decide now that you can devote the first four bites of food at any meal or snack to this approach.

Select. Be purposeful in taking this bite. Select this bite, notice all the colors, textures, and shapes. Choose a bite that is able to fit easily in your mouth, not being too big or small to chew. It should be just the right size to be able to comfortably enjoy and savor.

Taste. Your mind should be fully on the sensation of eating. With this bite, you notice all the tastes that develop during this bite. Your mind is fully on the sensation of eating. You chew slowly, deliberately, and fully. You should swallow only when the food is completely chewed up.

Observe. With this bite, allow your mind to travel with this food around your mouth, down your throat, and into your stomach. Notice your hunger without any anxiety or fear, it is simply hunger. Observe yourself placing the fork down. You become aware of the movement of your hand, arm, and mouth. You are eating with purpose, full of poise and grace.

Pause. With this bite, add an extra pause just before you put the next bite of food in your mouth. Then, during the bite, pause in the middle of your chewing just for a short moment. When you’re done with the bite, you add one more pause before the next bite of food.

This method helps you establish mindfulness you can choose to use during the rest of your meal. Remember that mindful eating is a practice. Through practicing theses skills of eating can be learned and mastered. Each individuals’ eating experiences are unique, so through mindful eating practice you can gain insight in to your own unique needs and make positive choices to satisfy your body and enjoy the process.

Part of eating mindfully is being able to gauge when you are hungry and when you are satisfied. Learning to become aware of physical hunger and fullness cues can guide your decision about when to begin eating and when to stop eating. Your goal should be to feel better when you’re done eating than when you start.