What is Mindful Eating?
As mindfulness practices gain popularity, you may have heard the term "mindful eating" spoken among professionals in the health community and wondered how it applies and influences eating patterns. Mindfulness is a concept and practice rooted in longstanding traditions that has been shown to offer many benefits to health and well-being, including the development of healthy eating habits. In this article, we will dive in and uncover what it means to eat mindfully, the benefits it can produce and how you can start applying it to your life.
The Basics of Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is based on the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is originally a Buddhist concept and involves bringing full awareness to your moment-to-moment experiences, as non-judgmentally as possible. Mindful Eating involves bringing that conscious awareness to your eating experiences. This includes being mindful of your hunger, fullness and satiety cues as well as any likes, dislikes, physical sensations or emotional reactions surrounding eating and food preparation. At its core, mindful eating is about honoring your inner wisdom and acknowledging the nourishment and enjoyment that can accompany food choices and preparation.
Some of the fundamentals of mindful eating include:
Bringing intentional awareness to the moment and the experience of eating, nonjudgmentally
Making food choices based on what will nourish your body as well as what brings satisfaction by engaging your senses to explore, savor and fully taste food
Recognizing and honoring any food likes, dislikes or neutral feelings without judgement
Paying attention to hunger and fullness cues before, during and after eating and using that inner wisdom to help you decide when to start and stop eating (1)
Benefits of Adopting Mindful Eating Patterns
In today's fast-paced and outcome-driven society, it can be hard to escape the dieting mentality and to remember to pay attention to your innate wisdom. Diet culture wants us to believe that making food choices based solely on external guidance, such a diet plans and strict food rules, is best. With most dieters struggling to find the sustainable health and well-being they seek, mindful eating is an alternative approach that helps you bring your attention back to your inner wisdom and use that as a guide to choose food that is nourishing, satisfying and meets your unique needs. Mindfulness can help you combine the knowledge you obtain about nutrition with what your body's signals tell you about your eating experiences, using that information to create eating patterns unique to your needs and desires. It can help you find balance, freedom of choice, a healthy relationship with food and healthy patterns of eating that are sustainable, nourish your body and bring enjoyment.
Mindful Eating practices have shown promising results for individuals struggling to overcome challenges with behaviors that can affect weight, such as binge eating, emotional eating and eating that is largely driven by external cues, such as the sight or smell of food (2,3).
How to Start Applying Mindful Eating to Your Life
Here are a few tips to help you begin mindful eating practices:
Eat without distractions, so you can remain fully present
Engage all your senses while eating, in order to savor and enjoy your food as much as you can
As you engage your senses, pay attention to any likes, dislikes or neutral feelings about the food in front of you
Focus on how the food makes you feel, whether that is through physical sensations or emotions
Before you begin eating, ask yourself why you are eating. Is it due to hunger, boredom, a certain emotion?
Reflect on the nourishing abilities and significance of the food in front of you. What nutrients is the food rich in? How was it prepared? Where did it come from?
Want to learn more about how you can apply mindful eating to an overall healthy lifestyle and gain back control over your health and eating habits? Then click here to learn more about working together under my online, one-on-one consulting services. I would be happy to speak with you about your goals!