This Mindful Moment dives a little deeper into the eating experience. We continue on with the work of Megrette Fletcher by exploring the 6 Phases of Eating.
Mindful Eating Moment #6
The notion that eating can be broken down into different phases or components is an important step in being able to mindfully consider the eating process. Being more aware of the complexity of a meal (and all its parts) helps us to recognise where we can stop and pause, and consider our hunger/fullness cues. These phases are not linear, but instead a cycle which we move through during our day.
1. Non-eating – This is the time in between meals where there is no hunger, so we don’t eat. When we recognise a hunger cue, however, we will move on to the next phase.
2. Preparation – This is where we make choices about what to eat. Experiment with the level of hunger that you feel is most useful during this phase. E.g. if you leave the preparation phase for when you are very hungry, are you more likely to snack? If you start preparing food when you aren’t hungry enough does it help or hinder the eating process? Etc…
3. Pause – This happens just before you sit down to eat. It is the time where we sit and recognise that we are about to engage in an act of self-kindness, which is feeding and nourishing ourselves.
4. Eating – This is the active phase of consuming the meal. Here, we can use the hunger/fullness scale (and all of our senses) in an explicitly mindful way.
5. End of the meal – In this phase, we will begin to notice that we are reaching the “fullness” end of the scale.
6. Clean up and a return to non-eating – Here, we will likely be full (hence why we stop eating) but we might still be contemplating whether we continue to eat or not. After a meal there is often food in sight, we are in/around the kitchen cleaning or packing leftovers for lunch etc… At this time we might be more inclined to engage in “Mindless Eating”.
Your task is to observe the 6 phases of eating while you have your meals. Maybe choose just 1 meal a day to do this, and see if you can bring mindful awareness and observation to these phases. Notice how this changes the way you eat and prepare food. Pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues in each phase, and how this helps (or hinders) your ability to have a more mindful meal.
Source: Fletcher, M. (2017). Core Concepts of Mindful Eating: The Professional Edition.