When was the last time you took the time and patience to experience the flavors, taste, textures and temperatures of your bites? After taking many classes on Mindfulness—both about the body and food—I’ve learned to experience foods with an objective of thinking about the flavors and the process to receive gratification from my food.

But, why?

coffee, cream, sweet, milk
Julia Roccanova

Slowing down the process of eating into a moment-by-moment interaction will alter your perception of the food that the world provides you.

Restaurants and recipes intentionally combine foods, spices and flavors that complement each other and blend purposefully together. The work behind every fixed item on the menu is artfully created with time and patience. The chefs are trained to incorporate different ways to fulfill your tastebuds with the help of spices, sweetness, acidity, aroma, saltiness and so on. So let them surprise you!

What are you, as the eater, intended to do?

Julia Roccanova

The chef doesn't prepare a meal with the desire of an unsatisfied consumer, so let's begin talking about your commitment to the chef. That is, to recognize the multitude of flavors encompassed into one dish, and of course, enjoy. It's imperative to acknowledge the time and practice to fully discover the enlightenment flavors can provide you. 

What is the CAMP system?

grape, berry, pasture, wine, juice
Julia Roccanova

Some of the steps might appear tedious, however, it’s essential to repeat the process numerous times to really get the full effect. The basic technique of mindful eating in the CAMP System (Control, Attitude, Mindful Eating and Portions) is the Basic Mindful Bite. You can use this technique with any solid food.

Before the meal

chili, vegetable, sauce, cream
Julia Roccanova

#SpoonTip: This process can be relatively quick, approximately 30 seconds.

– The CAMP method begins before the meal as you become cognizant of the food that has entered your space. This is an imperative step before beginning to eat because many people take for granted the availability of the foods that surround us.

– Take a look at the food prepared for you. How did it arrive at your plate? The long chain of water, sunlight, harvesting, farmers, trucks, to eventually be cooked for you. Mentally "thank" each step of the chain. 

– Remember that foods are not the "enemy." All foods fit into your lifestyle in moderation. No one meal or food is going to alter your body. It's best to be in "balance and harmony" with foods instead of against them.

– Smell the aromas of the food. Yes, smell! Our olfactory senses (smell nerves) are connected to our gustatory sense (taste) and can influence your experience

The Mindfulness Method by CAMP System

apple, sweet
Julia Roccanova

Mindful eating isn't solely the awareness of the food, but the practice constitutes that you're aware of yourself as you consume the food and tune into your body and sensations.

1. As you bring food to your mouth, slow down and become aware of your movements.

– Be aware of the size of your bite. Make the bite small enough to taste, but large enough to get what you want on the utensil.

#SpoonTip: We are attempting to slow down the act of eating, not taking large bites to finish a meal in five minutes.

2. Once the food is in your mouth, clear your hands. Put silverware or remaining food down.

 – This step guarantees your undivided focus on the bite—flavors, scents, spices, etc.

3. Chew this bite with your mind in laser-sharp focus on the process. Concentrate on the taste of the food and the act of eating. Don't do anything else while you're chewing. Simply chew and pay attention.

– This is everyone's dream job, isn't it? You're being asked to simply focus on your food. 

4. Keep chewing until the food is uniformly smooth. Use this consistency of the food as a signal to swallow.

5. After you swallow, but before you bring more food to your mouth, rest for a few seconds, thereby inserting a pause into your eating.

One meal should take approximately 20 minutes to consume. This amount of time allows your body to digest and initiate the cue when you are content so that you don't overeat, and are mindful of the bites that you're taking as opposed to scarfing it down. 

Reed Erickson

Soon you will be a zen master, experiencing the pleasurable opportunities that food can bring. I encourage everyone to attempt this method at least four times before making any judgements. It might seem monotonous and prolonged, but mindful eating comes with devotion and practice.  

Remember: when in doubt, let the chef cook it out, right? They're the experts in the construction of the dish, so, you might as well embrace the flavors that your chef prepared and you're paying for. Enjoy and eat mindfully!