Mindful eating – raisin the roof

What is mindfulness?

It’s a word that’s used a lot at the moment. A  psychological fad we see discussed day to day. The whole ethos of mindfulness is encouraging one to live and be present in the moment; connecting with our 5 senses and centering ourselves…. realigning us with our beliefs, motivations and values in a meaningful way, and consciously separating them from your superficial impulses.

The theory

The theory goes that we are so busy trying to push away past worries from our mind and consumed by anticipating future ones that we rarely concentrate on enjoying what we are doing now. Being content in the moment is all about acknowledging your self-centre which is constant, and allowing the fleeting components of yourself to pass away and be let go. So that’s your;

  • thoughts;
  • feeling;
  • craving;
  • behaviours, and;
  • impulses;

which are forever changing and interacting.

A person who wasn’t mindful would become consumed by a component of yourself. Causing an impact on ‘self-centre’ and even forgetting that feelings aren’t everlasting. Basically, think of your self-centre as a rock, your thoughts, feeling, craving, behaviours and impulses should be an ever flowing stream washing over you, not a pond or a crashing overwhelming ocean beating you down.

How does this relate to eating?

I first made the link when participating in a mindfulness course that involved me taking an hour to eat a single raisin? Bizarre? I thought so too.

So there I was, holding a raisin in the palm of my hand in a room full of people doing the same, and I was asked to look at the raisin, but really look at it, study it. Have you ever looked at a raisin? I hadn’t, usually I just pop it in my mouth, and be done with it. But this time, I inspected it. Raisins kind of look like screwed up brains, the grooves and concaves creating shadows and varieties of deep purples. I’d always thought of raisins as black before. Then we were asked to feel the raisin. Roll it in the palm of our hands and between our finger tips. Despite the various grooves it was smooth, I was surprised when I noticed I liked how easily manipulated the shape was.

We were asked to think about the raisin, where it has come from, how it had got here, and what it would mean to me and my well-being to eat it. I thought of a tanned boy in California picking a grape and drying it out in the sun, covering it in sugary liquid, and then carefully inspecting it before individually placing each raisin into a box. Which was then chosen by the therapist in the room after being carried across the sea by boat. Not really knowing if any of that is true, I still felt a sense of understanding.

Then we were asked to place the raisin in our mouths, not to chew or taste. But to see how it felt on our tongues, to think about how our body responded to this, acknowledging the sensation it created in our mouths. Then we were told to chew, feeling the skin pull and burst in our mouths, I’ve never noticed that before. Closing our eyes we were again asked to think of nothing but the taste. This continued for another 20 minutes. I now love raisins.

While it seems like a lengthy process, the point of it all, I feel, is to get us to reflect on what we put into our bodies. Use it when meal planning, doing your weekly food shop or having a craving. The notion of eating mindfully isn’t to be confused with calorie counting, and more about increasing your awareness of what you are eating. In other words, eat vanilla cupcakes, just think about what you’re eating and why you’re eating it. Enjoy it.

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