Mindful Eating for Children
In the last few months we have been working a lot in schools, teaching mindfulness to classes of students. It has been lots of fun. It is never too soon to learn mindfulness and to teach our children to understand and manage emotions.
A really good way to introduce children to mindfulness is through mindfully eating sweets. It’s an exercise that always goes down well and encourages children to engage their senses more in everyday life. This exercise works well in the classroom and at home.
- Give each pupil a wrapped sweet and ask them not to eat it. This can be a bit of a challenge it itself! The following script might be useful in leading a group of children through mindful eating.
- Ask class to hold their sweet in palm of their hand and just look at it. Encourage the children to observe the colour, shape and pattern of the wrapper, perhaps noticing if there is anything surprising about it. They might notice the folds of the wrapper.
- Suggest they notice the feel of the sweet – whether it is heavy or light, warm or cool.
- Ask class to open the wrapper, noticing the sound that this makes. Ask the class to notice how their hands feel as they are opening the wrapper.
- Once the sweet is unwrapped, suggest that the group looks at it once again, noticing the colour, shape and any imperfections.
- Encourage the class to smell their sweet and notice how they feel.
- Then give permission to place the sweet on the tongue – without chewing – noticing the flavour.
- Finally encourage chewing- noticing how it feels to chew and how long the flavour lingers.
After leading the exercise you might ask the following questions
- What was that like?
- What did it smell like?
- Is that how you normally eat sweets?
- Where do you think that sweet came from?
Mindful eating can be used with any kinds of food. It can encourage children to be curious and try new things. By encouraging children to consider where their food comes from, children can become more appreciative and by using senses more children can enjoy the process of eating.