For some, eating is just a means of fueling their bodies, while for others, it can bring about a sense of relief and well-being in response to stress or depression. If you fall into the latter category (I have been guilty of it!), mindful eating can help put you back on track and take a closer look at what's really bothering you.
This great exercise by John Kabat-Zinn has become known as the “raisin exercise”. If you hate raisins, don't worry about subbing it out with something else -- something with a complexity of textures and flavors (it can even be a candy such as a Lifesaver) is the best.
First, take your raisin or other food and really scrutinize it. Look at the folds and sheen of the skin. Notice the way it feels in your fingers -- is it squishy? Has it been sitting for a while and has started to harden up? What is the texture of the skin?
Now give it a good sniff. What does it smell like? Does it elicit any thoughts or feelings? If you find yourself meandering in your mind, gently bring yourself back to center and focus again on the raisin.
On to to fun part. Pop the raisin in your mouth and move it around with your tongue. Notice the texture. Bite into it (obviously, if you're eating something too hard to bite through, don't do this step). What are all of the flavors you're experiencing? Is it sweet? Tart? What else are you noticing?
Try doing this each time you sit down to a meal. You don't need to do it with every single bite, but if you do this for the first few, you'll find you're chewing more thoroughly and eating more slowly -- both excellent for your digestion. It will also give your brain time to register when your stomach is actually full, helping you avoid overeating. Food can be both fuel and pleasure -- it's just a matter of learning to be mindful about everything you partake of.