The Mindful Dog Eats

igdmaster's picture


As I was working on the course curriculum for Mindful Living's "Healthy Relationship to Body & Food", I coincidentally gave Prudence a new kibble for breakfast. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are notorious for being picky eaters, and she's no exception. In her nearly two years of life, I've probably donated more food to the Humane Society that she refuses to eat than she's consumed in that time. This morning, however, her pickiness interested more than frustrated me given the topic in which I was immersed.

Here's the scenario: Prudence approached the bowl of kibble with excitement, only to stop dead when her nose detected a new scent. She cautiously inched toward it, fully focused on the new sensations her nose and eyes were receiving. Curious, she bent her nose to the bits and, deciding further exploration was safe and warranted, she put a piece in her mouth. Off she ran to her secure eating spot on the family room carpet, where she promptly spit our the now wet bit of kibble. After another good smell, she took it in her mouth again, rolled it around, and once more spit it out to have another sniff. Evidently deciding that a tiny taste was in order, Prudence bit into the kibble, dropping some of it on the carpet while she chewed the rest. "Not bad," I could almost imagine her saying by the look on her face. The rest of that piece went down the hatch and, tail wagging, she ran back to her bowl to have more.

This was interesting because Prudence intuitively investigated her food with the approach used in Mindful Eating. She was fully present with her senses of smell, sight, touch, and taste (possibly sound, too, as she heard the crunch). Her complete focus was on the food as opposed to watching squirrels or stalking cats. She chose an environment that she felt was secure and comfortable (the prefect canine ambience, so to speak) to explore this morsel. Once satisfied that conditions were right to continue, she proceeded to enjoy her food, stopping when she felt she'd had enough even though there were still some bits left.

What can we as humans learn from this? Perhaps dogs have it right. Babies share this intuitive eating ability as well (no, I'm not equating babies and dogs beyond that). To enjoy eating, and give the food and our bodies the respect they deserve, the steps that I observed Prudence taking are worth a try. Focus, engage all our senses, take our time tasting and savoring, and stop when we feel satisfied...that's Mindfulness.

I'd recommend, however, that you skip the spitting out part.