A fun and effective way to introduce mindfulness is with mindful eating.
Do you have a snack time? Perhaps your students eat snack during read aloud, or simply shovel it in before recess. The Mindful Snack activity from the Yoga Calm® Curriculum is the perfect resource to create a meaningful mindful experience.
At the core of mindful eating is staying grounded and present with our senses. How are we connected to our food? What food creates healthy energy? The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack program is a grant that provides weekly fruits and vegetables. The vegetables offer the perfect opportunity for a Mindful Snack lesson!
Preparing the Snack
Using carrots and some additional items from my own pantry (raisins, crackers, cheese, honey, pineapple, chocolate) we had all the ingredients we needed to create. To make the moment special, I used special plates from the Goodwill sale rack!
The twist in this assignment was that they were not creating their own spread, but their partner’s. The big question that drove the lesson was, “How can beautifully displayed food contribute to mindfulness?”
They had a fantastic time arranging the food and finished the display with a placemat, fancy napkin and cup of juice. Since the excitement in the room was about to bubble over, I made sure to take time and get re-grounded with Belly Breathing from our Move Mindfully® Card Deck.
Next, it was time to present the food. Sitting down at the plate that was painstakingly created by their partner, there were audible gasps. I had them sit in silence for one minute and just notice the display.
Eating the Snack
The students had to eat for two minutes in silence. Just noticing all of the different flavors. Chewing slowly and deliberately. Then, the students spent a minute or two journaling about what they observed with their five sense. Finally, they were allowed to quietly talk to the students at their table. The conversation was all centered around the food taste, texture and presentation.
Comments like, “I don’t like raisins, but they looked so beautiful on my plate, I had to eat them!” “I never would have thought honey would be good on pineapple, but I really enjoyed it!”
We didn’t use any sharp knives or any heated kitchen appliance. The students could go home, pull items out of their pantry and create something for their family. This makes a great holiday gift that essentially costs nothing. Knowing the value of beautiful food is a life skill.
To finish with another life skill, students wrote a thank you note to their partner. We talked about what a thank you note should entail and the importance of hand written acknowledgment. It was a highly motivating, real world writing assignment!
Mindful eating is a core component to wellness. Slow down. Facilitate a space where your students can experience food. It was amazing how grounded, present and calm the energy was in the room during the entire experience.
This year, giving a few minutes to mindfully eating the snack has made a huge impact, not only in their appreciation of food, but also in the development of sensory language. We are miles past, “It tastes good” to “It tastes crunchy and smells floral”.
Have you brought mindful eating into your work with students? Leave a comment!