How can I learn to practice mindful eating for my eating disorder?

July 10th, 2015 by

Mindfulness is one of the key components for dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT. The key idea around mindfulness is to stay focused on the moment and focus on just one thing at a time. Mindfulness can be an essential tool for teens struggling with eating disorders because it can help redirect racing thoughts and ease the anxiety around eating. Here is a mindfulness exercise that can demonstrate how to apply the skill.

  1. Take out a peppermint candy and place it in your hand.
  2. Slowly unwrap the candy and inhale its scent. How would you describe its smell?
  3. Notice the colors and texture of the mint. How does it feel in your hand? What colors or patterns do you see?
  4. Put the mint in your mouth. How does it taste? Focus on the experience of having the mint on your tongue. Take a moment and describe the experience.

This simple exercise uses your five senses to focus on staying in the moment. When a child with an eating disorder is struggling through mealtime, sometimes it can be helpful to just take things one bite at a time. This technique is especially helpful for clients who binge because they must slow down to truly experience their food. While this mindfulness technique might not work for everyone, it is one of many tools that we use in DBT to keep the focus on the present and away from stressful thinking.

Sara Sharnoff Chesley is an in-home eating disorder therapist in Charleston, SC.  For more information, contact her at