Christine’s Mindful Eating Challenge

As an editor at My Yoga Online, I spend a lot of time reading articles about mindfulness and meditation. They seem to be hot topics right now and every day, as I walk home from work, I think about committing to incorporating these practices into my own life… I do a lot of thinking.

Last week I attended a Vega industry night, and was inspired by a talk on mindful eating by RHN Andrew Raine. During his talk, a small container with a slice of banana and apple was placed in front of each guest. We were then given the following instruction:

1. Pick up the fruit (we first did this with the banana and then repeated the instructions with the apple) and experience its texture and smell.

2. Take two big inhales and exhales to return yourself to a state of relaxation. When you’re stressed, you are in a state of fight-or-flight, so all of the blood is in your muscles. This is not a prime state for digestion.

3. Put the piece of fruit in your mouth, but do not chew. Experience the texture of the fruit against your tongue and the initial burst of flavor.

4. Chew the piece of fruit three times. Experience the result

5. Chew the piece of fruit three more times. Experience the result again.

6. Then chew your piece of fruit twenty more times. Swallow only after the piece of fruit has achieved the consistency of a sort of paste.

Andrew told us that this was the consistency that our food should always be in whenever we swallow. He explained that the more work you do during the chewing portion of eating (he recommended that you chew everything you eat at least 25 times), the less energy your body has to spend during digestion later. Here’s the piece of information that stuck with me the most: the less energy your body needs to use for digestion, the more energy you’ll have for other things.

We were challenged to try to mindfully eat all of our meals for an entire week. I’m all in for more energy, so I took on the challenge.

Because I generally wait until I’m starving before eating (and then inhale my food in penny-sized chunks), forcing myself to eat slowly and chew my food until it had reached that paste-like consistency was extremely difficult. I’ve got a fairly busy schedule, and eating in this way took a lot more time. During the first few days of the challenge, I also noticed that I felt a lot less satisfied after eating the same amount of food that I’d normally eat. This feeling went away after day four, and looking back I wonder if my dissatisfaction was simply a result of my digestive system suddenly getting an extreme cut in the amount of work that it had to do. Maybe, for the the first few days, it was putting just as much energy into digestion as it did before… even though it no longer had to. After day four, those feelings of hunger pangs, after eating, went away and I felt better than ever.

The exercise inspired me to start meditating for five minutes in the morning. I’ve done this for the last three days and, as a result, have felt much more alert and focused while at work. Perhaps mindful eating is a gateway into other positive life-affirming behaviours. Who knows? Although I know that, on occasion, I will revert to old habits (I didn’t even consistently chew my food into a paste for every meal during the challenge), I still feel that this has been a step in the right direction. I challenge you to try it out for yourself.

Since moving to Vancouver, BC, Christine has plunged head first into the pursuance of her dreams of being an actor and writer. After a frustrating start, she turned to the wisdom found in a variety of self-improvement books, and has observed incredible growth in exchange for her commitment to being better. She is now enjoying her job as assistant editor for the MYO team. Christine writes about her journey in her blog The Positivity Project, and hopes to encourage as many people as possible to follow their dreams and to challenge themselves to face their fears everyday of their lives.


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