What is Mindful Eating and Is It Time to Try It?

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You might be familiar with the term “mindfulness“, however are you aware of how mindfulness relates to eating?

The Center for Mindful Eating (TCME) has created principles to guide people who are interested in mindful eating.

What is Mindful Eating?

Mindful eating is –

  • allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom;
  • using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body;
  • acknowledging your responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral) without judgment; and
  • becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating you can change your relationship to food.

Someone Who Eats Mindfully –

  • Acknowledges that there is no right or wrong way to eat but varying degrees of awareness surrounding the experience of food.
  • Accepts that his or her eating experiences are unique.
  • Is an individual who by choice directs his or her attention to eating on a moment-by-moment basis.
  • Gains awareness of how he or she can make choices that support health and well-being.
  • Becomes aware of the interconnection of Earth, living beings, and cultural practices and the impact of his or her food choices on those systems.
  • Practices mindfulness to promote balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is.

Why Mindful Eating?

Why are people turning off their phones, televisions and other plug-in devices and tuning in to the taste of food?

  • Growing research suggests that distraction while eating prevents a person from enjoying the bite in the mouth. Coined “mindless eating,” this innocent behavior has been linked to overeating, stress and increased anxiety.

How would you know if you are eating in a mindless or distracted way?

  • One quick way is to recall what you ate at your last meal. Can you describe the flavour, the taste, the texture? If you are struggling to remember any of the specifics about your choice, you are not alone. Mindful eating helps individuals learn how to check in with their direct experience when eating. Reconnecting to your direct sensory experience can become the start of a food and eating awakening. People often discover that the flavour of common foods can be transformed by bringing a mindfulness practice to the meal.

How does mindful eating change a meal?

  • Pausing and becoming curious focuses the mind. Questions stimulate the mind and create a focus on the bite in the mouth. Mindful eating cultivates becoming grounded in the present moment’s awareness of eating. Many people who try eating mindfully discover that mindfulness may be just the perfect seasoning for any meal.

Is it Time to Try Mindful Eating?

The nutrition clients I work with are often out of touch with their feelings of hunger and inner signs of fullness that they cannot remember the last time they felt hungry. They often eat when they are stressed, distracted or just because the food is there.

Sound familiar?

By breaking the habit of eating without awareness (mindless eating), you can rediscover your physical feelings of hunger and satiety. Rediscovering your hunger cues, your non-hunger eating triggers and by choosing foods you enjoy eating, you can help resolve the love-hate relationship many of us have with food.

Are you ready to ditch the “diet” mindset and start to eat mindfully?

If so, you may like try one of the following 3 simple ways to introduce mindfulness into your mealtimes.

1. Learn to Meet Your Needs Without Food

As you start to observe your eating, you may notice your food craving is emotionally driven. If this is the case, you may like to HALT and ask yourself if you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Once you have identified this need, you can then make a choice to meet your need in another way if it is emotional and not fill the void with food.

2. Before You Eat, Check in With Your Breath and Your Body’s Hunger Levels

Are you really hungry or just think you are hungry? To work it out, next time you are contemplating eating, you may like to stop and take a few deep breaths. Once you are present, check-in with your body and see if there are physical sensations of hunger. If you are hungry, how hungry are you? What are you hungry for? Is there a particular food or drink you would like to have? Listen to what your body is telling you.

3. Slow Down

Slowing down while you are eating can help you enjoy your food more as well as help you be aware when you are getting full. A couple of simple ways to slow down whilst eating includes pausing and taking a breath between bites, chewing your food completely or putting your knife and fork or spoon down between bites.

Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insight in to mindful eating and what it is! If you have any other questions or ways to eat mindfully, please write them below in the comments section or on our facebook page here.

If you are ready to take yourself on the adventure of getting to know yourself (your true self), why not join the Toolkit? A place where I share tools, inspiration and ideas to live a courageous and openhearted life.

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