Chocolate. Think about it for a moment.Imagine holding a square of chocolate in your hand. Does it make you feel happy, relaxed, dreamy? Or does it conjure up thoughts of weight-loss, craving and guilt?If just thinking about chocolate can trigger such powerful thoughts and emotions, what happens when that imaginary chocolate really is in your hand? For some, this is a chance to sit down and take it slowly, to thoroughly appreciate every single, delicious bite. For others, it’s a race to eat it as fast as they can. And whilst some are happy to eat it in public, for others, eating chocolate is a solitary, secret pursuit, only to be done in private.There’s no denying the powerful influence food can have on the mind, and right now mindful eating is everywhere. It’s mainly pushed as the next big diet plan—which is understandable because eating mindfully fundamentally transforms our relationship with food.Lose the CravingsBut by considering mindful eating only as a diet plan seriously undervalues its full potential. It really misses the point because the truth is, there’s so much more to be gained from eating mindfully than losing a few pounds.In fact, it can change our entire approach to eating by helping us to reduce our focus on food. It helps us to let go of our cravings, our feelings of guilt and anxiety, and instead replace them with a healthy appreciation and enjoyment of the food we eat. And the results can be incredible.To find out what eating mindfully really means, you have to try it. Like meditation, if you don’t give it a go, it won’t make sense. You can read a whole article about how amazing something tastes, but it’s only when you put it in your mouth and experience the flavor that you really understand.This Exercise Requires ChocolateA great place to start is with this simple exercise. You can choose any kind of food you like, but I always recommend some really good quality dark chocolate, as it has very little sugar in it and—at the risk of sounding like a chocolate snob—so much more depth; it’s a bit like drinking a really good wine.So you have your carefully chosen chocolate before you. Prepare by imagining it’s the very first piece of chocolate you’ve ever had a chance to try. You can also imagine it will be the very last piece of chocolate you’ll ever be able to taste. In short, the idea is to savor the experience.5-Step Meditation for Eating Mindfully1. Before you even pick up the chocolate, take a couple of deep breaths: in through the nose, out through the mouth. This gives the body and the mind a chance to settle, so you can mentally leave everything behind, just for a moment.2. Take time to appreciate the chocolate for what it is. Consider where it’s come from; imagine its different ingredients growing in their natural environments, even the people who tended to those ingredients.3. Pause and notice how you’re feeling. Are you impatient to eat it as quickly as possible, or are you feeling calm? Are you experiencing pleasure or excitement, or guilt or unease? Just take a moment to notice.4. Slowly unwrap the chocolate. Then, spend around a minute looking at it closely. Touch it to find out how it feels, concentrate on how it smells (before it melts!).5. You’ve made it this far, and by now will be more than ready to taste the chocolate. But take your time. Take just a small bite, and try to resist chewing. Instead, notice how it feels in the mouth—its temperature, texture and taste. Is it creamy, sweet or bitter? Resist that urge to chew, just allow it to slowly melt in the mouth. And repeat.By appreciating and savoring the taste in this way, we immediately find ourselves in the present moment. It’s as if, for that moment, we have let go of all of the unnecessary background chatter in our minds and are left instead with nothing but the here and now.Needless to say, we may not always have the time to eat in this way, but simply by applying the same principle—even when in a hurry—we can begin to develop a whole new approach to eating; a healthier, happier mind; and in all likelihood, even shed a few pounds in the process.For more information about mindful eating, check out The Headspace Diet.