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It’s Mealtime! Relax and Enjoy

Young people learn the value of slowing down when eating and enjoying their food.

Ages

3-14 Years Old

Duration

30 Minutes

What You Need

  • Healthful snack, preferably one in season, such as three different varieties of apples (i.e. Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Red Delicious), or pears (i.e. Bosc, Red Anjou, Green Bartlett). Cut snack into bite size pieces appropriate for age group.

Resources

Healthy Families Newsletter

English (pdf)

Spanish (pdf)

To find out how this lesson fits Physical Education and Health Education standards click here.

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand how to eat slowly and mindfully. The youth will practice by paying close attention to smells, texture and taste while eating a healthful snack.

Instructor Notes

Before facilitating this lesson, you may want to review the following information about mindful eating. These facts can be shared with young people during your discussions.

Research points to at least three good health reasons to eat slowly and mindfully. These are:

  1. Healthy weight. There is good evidence that eating slowly leads to eating less which leads to a healthier weight.
  2. Better digestion. It takes our bodies time to break down and absorb the food we have eaten. Start the process off for better digestion by chewing your food well, which in turn leads to slower eating. More time between bites also gives our bodies’ time to react to what we’ve already consumed.
  3. Less stress. Eating slowly and paying attention to our eating, can be a great form of relaxation and mindfulness. When we are in the moment, breathing deeply and fully, rather than rushing through a meal, we are taking good care of our whole selves, not just our bodies.

Activity

Give each young person a sample of one of the snacks you brought, but tell them not to eat anything yet.

  1. Ask them to look at the food item and describe how it looks, such as bright, foamy, and red.
  2. Now ask them to smell the food. How does it smell? For example, sweet and fragrant.
  3. Tell them to take a normal bite of the food, but hold it in their mouths without chewing. After about 15 seconds, have the young people start to chew, but ask them to chew slowly.
  4. How does it taste? For example, sweet or tart.
  5. What does it feel like in their mouths? For example, soft or crisp.
  6. Repeat above steps for each snack item you brought food so the youth can see the differences in look, smell, feel, and taste.
  7. Explain that when we eat very quickly we miss out on a lot of what’s good about food, such as the taste, texture, smell, and enjoyment of the food we are eating.
  8. We may even discover that we enjoy or like a food that we hadn’t eaten before.
  9. Let the youth finish the snack, encouraging them to enjoy it slowly.
  10. Ask them at the end what they noticed during the exercise, this will help them process their thoughts better.

Conclusion

It takes our bodies time to break down food and take from it what we need. Remind young people to chew their food well and eat slowly. More time between bites gives time for our bodies to react to what we’ve already consumed, so we can digest and absorb our food better.

Encourage young people to practice eating slowly at home using the tips in the Healthy Families Newsletter.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, which also includes these tips, so that families can continue discussing healthy eating habits at home.

Additional Instructor Resources

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