The principles of mindful eating were developed to help guide those who are interested in eating in a way that will help establish a healthy relationship with food. If you want to lose weight, are trying to maintain your weight loss or just want to develop a healthier relationship with food, starting your mindful eating practice can help you achieve your goals. What is Mindful Eating? Mindfulness is a moment-to-moment awareness of life. It’s not necessarily easy or simple because we all easily get caught up in our won thoughts, and sometimes are so unaware of it until it passes us by. This is especially true with eating to the point that often times we eat one meal after another, snack after snack unaware of what or how much we have consumed. Similar to a yoga practice, the techniques of mindful eating may help you develop a better relationship with yourself and food. Mindfulness during meals helps us return our attention back to your lives so we can really pay attention to our food. Becoming aware of the nurturing aspect of food during preparation and consumption can help develop a respect for yourself, and your inner wisdom. By choosing pleasing and nourishing food you allow your body to use all its senses to explore, savor and taste the food. Then, you acknowledge your response to the food. If you like it, or you don’t you must do this all without judgement. This can help you learn to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision of when to begin, and when to stop eating. Types of Mindful Eating Arriving at Food - We realize that we are in the presence of food, and that we have careful work ahead. Before each meal or snack, we take a moment and simply notice the food and consider it. Awakening to the Food - Notice every aspect of the food itself before, during and after you eat it. Tuning In to the Body - Pay attention your own body as you eat. Notice the movement of your muscles, limbs, fingers, lips, teeth and tongue. Now tune in to your level of hunger. You are in touch with your need for food and know when to stop eating. Service with Food - Extend your mindfulness to any function in the service of your food, including setting the table, clearing the table, washing dishes, putting away dishes, shopping and preparing the food. All must be done with attention and wakefulness.(1) Benefits of being a mindful eater include:
- You’re less likely to overeat. Most times when we overindulge with food it’s because we’re being social, or are using food for reasons that are emotional or otherwise. But you can help reduce that muffin top, bloating and a “stuffed” feeling if you practice mindful eating.
- You’ll enjoy eating more. A mindful eater develops a respect for food. You might also notice that you also gain a more pleasurable experience at meals because you take the time to be mentally preset which allows you to taste your food, and use it for it’s nutritional value, not as an emotional crutch or a way to distract your mind.
- You are more easily satisfied. Not only will you eat less, but you will be more satisfied. It sounds strange but by working on your mindful eating practice, you are really developing a new relationship with food. Changing the way you interact with food will help you be able to trust yourself to be satisfied after only a few bites of chocolate cake, not the whole cake. This new trust will also allow you to stop denying yourself of treats, and help create far healthier eating habits, both physically and mentally.
Watch this short video for more information on mindful eating. In this video Lilian Cheung describes the seven practices of mindful eating.