Apr 12, 2021
Jon Kabat-Zinn introduced this Buddhist technique at a stress-reduction clinic many years ago. I often use it as an illustration. It has helped me control the portion sizes of my meals.
You will need a raisin, and a clock or timer for this exercise. The goal is to spend three to five minutes eating one raisin. It’s all about noticing and being present. Most people laugh when I tell them we are going to spend all that time eating one raisin, because they have never tried it. How often do we eat and not really experience the food? Learning this technique can show you how you can feel satisfied eating just a couple M&Ms, for example, versus a whole bag.
First, pick up the raisin and look at it. Notice wrinkles, the color, the fragrance, how it feels between your fingers. When you have noticed everything there is to notice about this raisin, put it up to your lips (but not in your mouth yet).
Just touch it to your lips and see what you notice. How does it feel? Notice the texture, the wrinkles, the firmness, and, again, how it smells. Next, put the raisin in your mouth, but don’t bite it right away, just roll it around on your tongue and see what you notice.
We have different taste buds on different parts of our tongue, so in different places in your mouth, the raisin may have a different taste. Again, notice the texture and the wrinkles without biting down. You may be able to detect an aroma, as there is an open connection between our mouth and our nose (the pharynx). Just keep rolling the raisin around, noticing everything possible. It may change in texture and become softer or spongier.
Watch the clock or timer and see how much time has passed. Remember the goal is to take three to five minutes to eat this raisin. When you have noticed all you can about the raisin, and how it has changed since you started this exercise, you can bite into it. Don’t chew it all at once; just take a bite and let it squish between your teeth.
Notice what it feels like, the flavor, the sweetness, the texture, the aroma. Continue to chew it slowly and enjoy its entire flavor.
The response I often get from people who try this exercise is that they never realized or noticed how much flavor is in just one raisin. This exercise allows you to savor the eating experience.
This is what can make the difference between eating just a little bit of something or the whole bag. In other words, when we don’t pay attention to what we are doing, we are not mindful and present. We don’t get the full experience.
As a result of this exercise, my experience eating a candy bar has changed. One bite now feels like an entire candy bar, and I feel satisfied as I truly savor it.
If I am mindful and eat slowly, paying attention to the act of eating it, that one bite of dark chocolate (my favorite) is more gratifying than a larger amount. It makes eating chocolate a good thing, as I don’t feel like I overindulged.
Sometimes when I am not paying attention, or multitasking and forgetting to be present, I’ll automatically eat the whole piece of chocolate without realizing it. I look around and it’s gone. I don’t even remember I ate it, and I didn’t really taste and enjoy it. Being mindful during eating can make a difference in how much we eat.
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