Most of us can pay attention to the flavors of food, at least for a few bites. But there is a way to extend your mindfulness beyond the taste of the food in your mouth. Paying attention to aftertastes continues your mindfulness beyond the bite. It allows you to be fully available to your food even after you've swallowed it.
Tastes can linger in the mouth for many minutes---or more---after we eat. Tiny food particles remain throughout the mouth, especially between the teeth, and release flavors. If we stay attentive beyond our chewing, we can detect and appreciate these tastes in a mindful way.
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Connoisseurs of wine are well aware of the value of aftertastes. The "finish" of wine is this quality; it describes all the flavors that develop after the wine is swallowed. Much enjoyment can be derived during this stage of mindful tasting.
There is no reason why we cannot all become Food Connoisseurs---mindful eaters exploring every aspect of the experience. Attending aftertastes is a great way to heighten the experience of eating.
The "Finish" of your Food
After you swallow, you can deliberately pay attention to the aftertaste---the "finish"---that develops. Before you take the next bite, ask yourself:
Are the flavors I sense during aftertastes the same as the flavors during chewing?
How are these aftertastes changing?
Does paying attention to aftertastes help me to enjoy my food?
Does paying attention help me slow down my eating?
Concentrate on aftertastes. Purposefully explore all kinds of foods and beverages.
At least once during each meal, notice deeply the aftertastes of each type of food. Fully explore the sensations. Watch flavors come and go. Take an extra long pause to experience this. And at the end of the meal, give yourself extra time to enjoy the overall experience---and aftertastes---of the food you've just eaten.
The Food is Wine
Try this simple plan to enjoy food and its aftertastes.
1. Prepare a simple snack; perhaps fruit and cheese. Select a beverage of your choice.
2. Choose a food and have a Basic Mindful Bite. Imagine that the bite of food is a sip of wine. You are looking for every characteristic of the flavors you experience.
3. After you swallow the bite, relax and look deeply at the aftertastes that develop. Describe these to yourself in detail. Write your observations down in your Food Journal if you are keeping one.
4. Continue on this way, imagine each bite of food is like sampling a new sip of wine. Explore fully the flavors beyond the bite. Enjoy the food!