Mindfulness teaches us to be present, to live in the moment, and to be aware of our experience. It contributes to emotional self-regulation, enhanced learning, and clear communication. In mindful eating, we intentionally use our senses to enjoy our food and pay attention to our bodies. Eating slowly and intentionally in this way contributes to good digestion, fosters a healthy relationship to food, and helps us connect with others over a shared meal. We encourage you to adapt this exercise for a variety of settings, including snack time, group meals for kids, and family dinners.
After sitting down at the table and before serving any food, ask your child to take three deep breaths. Then take some time to be thankful for the food. Say a prayer of your own or choose one of the samples below.
Moment of Gratitude: Go around the table and say one thing you are thankful for that happened today.
Traditional Prayer: Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Gratitude Prayer: For food in a world where many walk in hunger; for faith in a world where many walk in fear; for friends in a world where many walk alone; we give you humble thanks, O Lord. Amen.
Contemporary Doxology: (sing in unison) Praise God, the source of life and birth. Praise God, the Word who came to earth. Praise God, the Spirit Holy Flame. All honor, glory to God’s name.
Place food on a plate in front of your child or if your child is old enough have them choose the food and serve themselves. If you are doing this at a full meal with multiple foods (rather than a snack, for instance), just choose one of the food items to complete this exercise. Answer the questions below without rushing.
Seeing: Look at the (food’s name). What is its shape? What size is it? What color is the (food)?
Hearing: Listen closely. Is your food making any noise? What do you hear (or not hear)?
Smelling: What smell(s) do you notice? What does it remind you of?
Touching: Pick up the food slowly. What does it feel like in your hand? What is the texture of your food? When you touch it, does it feel hard, smooth, soft, bumpy, hot, cold, warm?
Tasting: Bring the (food) slowly to your lips. What do you feel in your mouth when you bring the food to your lips? Slowly open your mouth and place the (food) on your tongue. Take a few moments before you bite into it. Feel its texture on your tongue and in your mouth. Do you taste anything yet? Start to chew. Does the flavor change? How many different flavors are there?
**Adapted, in part, from SMArt Kids Practice Mindful Eating by Dr. Brittany Boulanger