Practicing Mindful Eating
What is mindful eating?
Mindfulness means focusing on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. When we apply mindfulness to eating, it means we are being fully attentive to our food. Mindful eating provides us with the opportunity to slow down and be present when we are eating. It allows us to distinguish between emotional, and true physical hunger. The act of eating becomes intentional instead of automatic.
Why practice mindful eating?
Mindful eating is NOT a diet. It is instead a framework to help you be more aware of your habits and offer you the opportunity to make lasting lifestyle changes if you so choose. Mindful eating is a sustainable practice!
“In today’s rush, we all think too much, seek too much, want too much, and forget about the joy of just being” – Eckhart Tolle
It is easy to eat ‘on the go’ – while we are working, driving, watching TV, or playing on our phones. However, this mindlessness means we are not giving enough attention to the present moment and the food we are consuming.
Key Fact: It takes your brain up to 20 minutes to realize you are full! When you eat too fast the fullness signal may not reach your brain until you have already full.
Mindful Eating will help you become aware of your habits. This practice makes you reflect on…
- How you eat
- Why you eat
- What you eat
- When you eat
- Where you eat
- How much you eat
- How you physically feel before, during, and after eating
- If/How your eating habits are tied to thoughts, emotions, and behaviors
Benefits of mindful eating:
Mindful eating is a technique that will help you gain control over your eating habits. Building a conscious and balanced relationship with food can take time and will look different for different people. There is no ‘perfect’ way to eat, and there is certainly no ‘perfect’ body type. You must remember that everyone has unique genetics, metabolisms, preferences, and priorities!
In saying this, the main benefit of mindful eating is exploring how and why we eat the way we do – without judgement, allowing us to create healthy, long-lasting habits. Mindful eating could mean you consume more, less, the same amount, or even different types of foods nourish your body and contribute to your wellbeing.
Enjoying Eating: Mindful eating helps you to appreciate the food in front of you – the presentation, aroma, taste, and nourishment it is providing your body.
Navigating Weight Change: Often, weight loss programs do not work long term. Studies show that 85% of people who practice temporary diets eventually regain the weight they have lost on a diet. Mindful eating presents a balanced and consistent approach that is shown to help people gain control over their eating habits.
Coping with Unhealthy Eating Behaviors: Mindful eating has shown to be an effective strategy when managing emotional eating (eating in response to certain emotions) and external eating (eating in response to environmental and food related cues).
Addressing Binge Eating: Binge eating involves eating a large amount of food in a short amount of time, often without control. Mindful eating can help to reduce the severity and frequency of binge eating.
How to practice mindful eating:
It is important to know what your body needs. Start by asking yourself some key questions: How hungry am I actually? What does my body need? How satiated do I feel halfway through this meal? Am I eating really fast or enjoying it? Am I denying myself food I like because I think it’s “bad”? Is this portion too much or not enough?
When you go to eat…
- Eat without distractions (no phone, TV, etc.)
- Eat slowly & chew thoroughly
- Focus on how the food makes you feel
- Engaging your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds, textures, and flavors
- Stop eating when you are full
Remember – the practice of Mindful Eating is intended to be free of judgement, guilt, and anxiety.
Mindful Eating Resources:
Eating Disorder Resources:
References:Food & Nutrition, Mindfulness & Relaxation