Do you ever feel this way?
I can’t remember the last time I ate peacefully. For some reason, I’m always in a rush to do something, to go somewhere, to reach a specific goal. When I’m at home, it’s the children, the phone ringing, piles of bills to pay, noise everywhere. I end up munching on potato chips and popcorn while cooking. I don’t think I even enjoy my food when I finally sit down for dinner. I wonder if I’ve ever eaten slowly in my entire life!
Are you a Mindless or a Mindful Eater?
Try to remember how you ate your last meal. Can you describe the texture, flavor, smell, visual pleasure of each ingredient on your plate? Were you relaxed, whether alone or with company? Did you have your cell phone next to you or the television turned on? Were you reading a book?
Research shows us that Mindless Eating, such as eating quickly, swallowing our bites with little attention to the present moment, can lead to anxiety, stress and overeating. The contrary is true for Mindful Eating. A meal consumed mindfully allows us to experience our present meal with curiosity, using all our senses to find the pleasure in every bite. We savor our food. We eat slowly. We tend to eat less. We are able to differentiate hunger from automatic eating.
What are the Principles behind Mindful Eating?
The Center for Mindful Eating provides us with basic and interesting Principles of Mindful Eating. As a member, I’m surprised at the amount of important information they convey, with their monthly newsletters, webinars and documents. Yet, when I ask patients if they eat quick or slow, with or without distractions, almost 94% of them respond “Extremely quick!” or “I don’t even remember how I feel like when I eat” or “I’m always doing two things at once when I have food in my mouth!”
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Favorite Principles of Mindful Eating
Some of my favorite Principles of Mindful Eating include:
- Using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body
- Becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating
- Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your inner wisdom
I help patients realize that it’s not enough to prepare “healthy” meals if we don’t allow ourselves to enjoy our meals. Mindful Eating nourishes both our heart and our body. By becoming aware of our feelings and physical sensations towards food, we develop a better relationship with eating.
“I can’t seem to stop eating,” John, a new patient, mentioned to me last week. When we’re disconnected with our mind and bodies, it’s difficult to differentiate hunger from satiety. I explained to John the importance of realizing the difference. Why are we eating at this moment? What is happening in our mind right now? Are we eating due to hunger or because of sadness, fear, boredom, frustration, joy?
Three Tips to keep you on the Mindful Eating path
- Take Small Bites or “Mini” Bites: Experience the pleasure in each small bite by chewing slowly. Not only will you feel better but you’ll also have a better digestion. Use all your senses while eating. Visualize this moment so you can repeat it during your next meal.
- Check in with your Hunger: So many people try to ignore their hunger cues. Yet, hunger is your friend. On a scale of 1 to 10, how hungry are you right now? Stop in the middle of your meal and check your hunger scale mentally.
- Avoid Multitasking: Give eating your undivided attention. When you enjoy your meals fully, your senses are stronger, fuller, and richer. Food brings joy to our lives. Food brings beautiful memories. Appreciate the meal you have in front of you.
Share your Comments:
How do you plan to be more Mindful?