WHEN I was a wee girl my daddy used to cajole me and my brother and sisters into finishing our meals by playing a game in which we were to imagine each forkful going to a different part of our bodies. Beef and potato, for instance, would be mashed up and formed into a pie shape, which we took great delight in dividing into wedges. On dad’s instruction we’d scoop up each piece and as we swallowed we’d imagine it going to, say, our left knee or our right pinky toe or a bicep or an eye. We imagine we could feel the bump as the food landed in each place and made us strong and healthy.

I don’t imagine for one minute that dad had ever heard of mindfulness, but it seems to me the game we played at our family dining table so long ago was an early form of the universal meditative practice that is currently so fashionable. It certainly made us concentrate on the food we were eating and to appreciate it.

Mindfulness encourages us to live in the moment in the belief that training the mind to stay in touch with the present from one moment to the next – rather than always thinking back or ahead, or juggling several thoughts at the same time – can help us connect to our senses and to diffuse negativity, depression and general unhappiness, and promote a sense of wellbeing instead.

It can be applied to everyday tasks like walking, brushing your teeth, taking a shower and listening to the phone ringing. Concentrating the mind on the task or event in hand, and appreciating it for what it is, sounds easy but it is actually quite difficult for those, like me, who have multiple thoughts running around their head every second of the day. The same applies to cooking and eating: too often I’m listening to music or the radio news during food preparation, and watching telly, chatting or reading while actually eating (sorry, dad).

I was interested to find that a new book to be published this month captures the mindfulness zeitgeist to help influence our attitude to food. The Mindfulness Diet (Hamlyn; £9.99) claims that being mindful and aware will help our appreciation of every mouthful, while rewarding us and healing our food issues such as comfort eating and cravings for chocolate or wine – without having to diet.

Basically it comes down to savouring the food before us with all five of the senses. We should learn to better appreciate the smell of warm, spicy, lemony cake; the sight of red tomatoes, yellow peppers, orange carrots, deep brown Balsamic; the sound of crunchy granola, the squishy sultana, the burst of a blueberry; the touch of the rolling pin as it crushes nuts beneath it, or butter as you grease the baking tray, or dough as you knead it. And taste, no longer considered to be centred on different areas of the tongue but on every single tastebud, each of which can pick up any of the five known tastes - including umami.

That’s not something I was aware might be in my 1960s mince and tatties, but I’ll certainly bear it in mind.