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Increasing Mindful Eating and THE PARIS NOVEL by Ruth Reichl

Cover of the book The Paris Novel by Ruth Reichl used to teach the skill of mindful eating.

Stella led a bare existence empty of passion. She went to work, ate simple meals, and followed a routine. Pleasure wasn’t on her priority list. This distrust of indulgence came through life experience. Stella’s mom, Celia, was so consumed with delight that she didn’t care when her hedonism brought her daughter pain.


Celia had particularly loved decadent meals. This provoked Stella to have the inverse desire and to make only simple meals, like chicken breast and rice, which she consumed without interest or curiosity. When Celia died and Stella went to Paris, Stella mindfully ate for the first time. Food, it turned out, was delightful. Mindful eating opened the door to exploring other parts of herself, allowing Stella to transform from uninspired and lonely to passionate and connected.


Mindful eating is the practice of paying attention to how food is experienced by the different senses (taste, touch, smell, see, hear) as it is consumed.  The goal of mindful eating is to appreciate, savor, and find fulfillment through fully experiencing food. This skill can be particularly beneficial for people who have lost their natural enjoyment of food.


Here is a simple and practical exercise to help with increasing mindful eating. It's a small step that can make a big difference in how you experience your meals.


  1. Put a small piece of food on the table in front of you. A berry, nut, raisin, or similar.

  2. Pretend you have never seen that food before and have yet to learn what it is.

  3. Smell the food. Notice the aroma, including how sweet, sour, light, or pungent it is.

  4. Touch the food. Notice how it feels, including texture, stickiness, weight, and juiciness.

  5. Look at the food. Notice the appearance, including color, sheen, and ridges.

  6. Listen to hear if the food makes sounds when touched.

  7. Place it in your mouth (no chewing). Notice the taste, including how sweet, spicy, salty, and acidic it is.

  8. Chew slowly and notice how the flavor profile changes.

  9. After swallowing, notice any aftertaste, smell, or mouth feel that is present.




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