At my last Long Term Care redeployment assignment, one of the tasks I did each shift was feed a man who was non-cognitive. He was a good eater. I would feed him everything on his plate in very small bites to avoid choking. It took 45 minutes for him to eat everything. He chewed a lot. The work I was doing when it wasn’t meal time was a lot of walking around. Meal times are when I could sit down. Feeding him was the relaxing part of my shift.
The first meal of unemployment, I decided to eat like him. I sat down at a table, not by my usual spot in front of the computer. I got myself comfortable. Took a few deep breaths. Looked at the food for a minute and thought about the long journey it took to arrive on my plate. I smelled it, took a small spoonful, held it in my mouth and chewed slowly. I continued this with each bite and 30 minutes later I was satiated. After I was done I realized how ‘working’ while eating was distracting me from an enjoyable eating experience.
I have continued this practice ever since and it’s been life changing. My time when I’m not at a meal is much more productive. My brain craves to learn more. I feel motivated to do good. I even lost a few pounds which wasn’t my intention. Mindful eating has helped me cope with the pandemic and hopefully beyond too. Try it for just one meal and see how it goes. Don’t pressure yourself. Have fun with it. Here are some tips to get you on your way.
- Remove distractions, phone/tablets/computer etc.
- Take a few breaths before you dive in. It will help bring your focus to the meal.
- As you breathe think about where the food came from, the long journey it took. Smell it, look at it. Take a small bite and let it sit in your mouth taking in the sensations/thoughts/feelings in that first bite.
- Put down your utensil between bites. If everything else seems too much for you at the beginning, just start with putting your fork down between bites. It makes a difference.
- Try to chew very slowly. Breathe in and out through your nose. Listen to your body. Often my thoughts wander away from the act of eating and I’ll realize half the bowl is gone and my mind wandered. Instead of feeling I am not doing it properly I simply go back to mindful eating.
Be kind to your body.