Have you heard of “mindful eating”? It’s a lifestyle “buzzword” that seems to be everywhere right now. “Be mindful!” and “Live in the moment with mindfulness!” are phrases I’ve heard many times.
But if you’re not at all familiar with this practice, or mindfulness itself, how can you seek to become “mindful” in how you live your life? And is it something worth pursuing?
-This is what I know:-
Mindful eating is a vital part of living who you were meant to be, in every aspect of your life.
Your relationship to what you eat is a doorway through deeper change and growth both felt and known in many areas of your life including – work, relationships, exercise and personal interests!
For most of my life, I ate mindlessly – as an afterthought.
Eating on the run, in the car, on the phone, on the way out the door. Late night food runs as a college student for junk food/fast food.
I rewarded my hard work as a mom to four sons by indulging nightly in a large chocolate bar loaded down with peanut butter, then went off to bed with this sitting on my stomach.
I didn’t know what I didn’t know – that food was my emotional rescue from a hard day, a social gift shared indulging with friends and family.
And at times the food was also a punishment when I ate little to nothing to make up for an eating bender while filled with self-loathing. All of this as I later learned was mindless, emotional eating.
What initiated change for me was the experience of practicing yoga.
Slowly over time as I learned yoga both physically and mentalluy, I also learned what it felt like to be and become mindful and this included eating!I was introduced to myself and my place both on the mat while in class and how to live my life more thoughtfully and compassionately in each day.
I didn’t wake up one day from being mindless to mindful. This was a journey with setbacks and growth to where I am today – comfortable with food and healthier as a result inside and out!
Food and mindless impulses no longer affect me. As a result, I know what I eat, how much and if there are emotional triggers. I enjoy what I eat instead of being controlled by impulses and “life events” In a word – balance!
Here are some Mindful Eating FAQ’s
What is “mindful eating”?
It’s a practice that involves tuning into your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations, -without judgment
while you are eating.
Do any of these sound familiar?
- “I shouldn’t eat this.”
- “Here I go again.”
- “I have no willpower.”
When you eat with mindfulness, you leave those judgments at the door. You choose to be thoughtfully involved with what you are eating right now – physically and emotionally.
The benefits of eating mindfully include you having a positive relationship with food as good for you and enjoyable! Being mindful with what, how much and why you are eating… will put you in control instead of being controlled or unaware that you ate. Your attention actually increases with mindfulness in the moment which over time gives you the ability to focus and see greater productivity in all areas of your life. You may even lose weight and increase your nutrition “know how” if this is something on your radar!
Where are you in the spectrum of food and your life?
Where you are is where you are. Because becoming a mindful eater was so impactful to me, I want this for you as well. With many things out of our control… It is in our control of what we put in our mouths and the ability to be compassionately mindful when we are eating!
Many of us today have overpacked our daily life with lots of multitasking which excludes time to eat slowly and restfully, which causes us to eat on the run in a state of stress—not tasting, noticing or remembering what we ate or how much. This is bad news for our bodies and minds.
Sadly most of us are well schooled in the art of mindless eating. Too much food eaten too fast, or eaten on the run… followed by a sense that you’ve received no felt enjoyment and even worse, no recall of what you actually ate! Sound familiar?
6 mindful eating steps to try now!
- Start Slow: Start slowly by noticing your eating patterns with one meal daily. Just notice without any judgment so you can learn and see your eating patterns.
- Press Pause: Before considering a meal or snack, take a few seconds to ponder whether or not you are truly hungry. You’ll be less likely to misinterpret sensations like tiredness, or emotions such as anxiety as true hunger.
- Chew your food: Too many of us eat our meals/snacks on autopilot or on the go. Learning to eat at a slower pace is a key practice of mindful eating. Chew – slow down – notice what your food tastes like, feels like!
- Unplug: Watching TV or thumbing through your smartphone while eating is the opposite of mindful eating. Eating this way distracts your mind and does not give your brain a chance to register pleasure from what is in your mouth or that you’ve had enough to eat. Give yourself permission to sit and savor what you are eating.
- Be Compassionate: Do this for yourself! The practice of mindful eating is about taking pleasure in food. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve downed a pint of ice cream or polished off whatever this is for you. The more you beat yourself up for eating foods that you’ve labeled “off limits” or think you’re overeating, the more stress you will have which will actually induce you to eat more!
- Reflect: Take time quietly to reflect what your eating patterns look like. It can be helpful when starting out to write these down in a journal or smartphone app if this is helpful. Common eating patterns include ( but are not limited to): eating in response to stress, boredom, sadness, and social events.
As you bring in all or some of these tips you will find yourself stressing less and savoring more as you become a mindful eating master!