Down, Take a Bite, Focus, Enjoy
America of today, with its worship of all things speedy and
efficient, taking time to eat a meal often becomes a perfunctory,
even burdensome, task for the busy student. Too many repasts
are performed thoughtlessly and sometimes skipped altogether
because of the time they require.
Now, with the support of
office, Smith students have a chance to change that by taking
their meals in the Mindful Eating Space, a designated dining
area in which eating, by design, ceases to be a chore and
becomes instead a thoughtful exercise in self-respect.
in the special dining room in the southern end of King-Scales
dining hall, the Mindful Eating Space opened its doors in
September. The space is available to all students Monday
through Friday during lunch hour and is maintained by the
dining staff at King-Scales.
The Mindful Eating Space provides
a non-judgmental, peaceful atmosphere in which students can
eat meals thoughtfully, slowly, and often silently, says
Emily Nagoski, director of wellness education. “It's a friendly
experience, but not a ‘social’ one in the traditional sense,” she
The idea for the Mindful Eating
Space began when filmmaker Diane Israel visited campus last
spring in conjunction with the screening of her documentary
Beauty Mark, which delves into issues of body image and disordered
eating, particularly among female athletes. While dining
with students, Israel discussed the Smith community’s need for a place where eating
could be embraced as a time for honesty, reflection, and
The Mindful Eating Space was
Mindful eating is like an art,
say those who practice it. It requires intent and focus.
“Mindful eating is very pleasant,” writes Buddhist monk, teacher and peace activist
Thich Nhat Hanh in his book of essays The
Path of Emancipation: Talks from a 21-Day Mindfulness Retreat. “We sit beautifully. We are aware of the people that
are sitting around us. We are aware of the food on our plates. This is a deep
Smith’s Mindful Eating Space offers a somewhat more pragmatic approach. The space
is for those “who want to improve their relationship with food and their body,
or who are interested in exploring practical strategies to improve their concentration,
working memory, and mood, while reducing stress and anxiety,” describes the wellness
Students who frequent the Mindful
Eating Space are encouraged to honor their inner wisdom by
listening, acknowledging without judgment their preferences
of one food over another, respecting moments of hunger and
of satiety, and being patient with themselves as they hone
The space is about slowing down,
taking a detour from modern society’s frenetic pace, eating with
awareness, and enjoying food again.
For more information about the
Mindful Eating Space at Smith, contact the .
Also, learn more about the practice of .