Mindful Eating, Mindfulness
Published on Jan 2, 2023 By Lisa Codina
Mindful eating is not a fad, it is a way of life, of being present – just as you should be in other aspects of your daily living. Unfortunately, some people misuse or abuse this tool as a way to restrict their food intake. Mindful eating is about bringing self-awareness into the experience of eating, not about using it as a tool for weight loss. It is an accessible and sustainable daily habit, when practised correctly. It is not about restricting food, it’s about being completely present in the moment, honouring your body and responding to the experience of eating with kindness and compassion.
Being aware of what you put into your body is a key component of mindful eating, however, that doesn’t automatically default to “healthy”. We have trained our brains to categorize food as healthy or unhealthy, and naturally when we eat too much of the bad food, we end up feeling guilty and shameful. Mindful eating helps us understand why we eat certain foods – mindlessly. With mindful eating you can still eat the foods you love and learn that you don’t have to overindulge in them to be satisfied. When you become aware in the moment of what and why you are eating by observing physical sensations, satiety cues, and emotional responses, you naturally tend to slow down which in turn prevents you from overindulging.
Think about how many times a day you eat, from the smallest snack to a main meal. There are many opportunities for us to slow down and pay attention, if only for a few minutes, or even just one bite. Being a mindful eater doesn’t require more time – in fact, once you understand what it is, you’ll actually gain valuable time back. You’ll be present in the moment of preparing your food, tasting it, enjoying a meal with friends or family – instead of obsessing about calories or weight. When you surrender to the moment you are more likely to make choices that nourish your body and feed your soul.
Food is such a huge part of our culture. It’s a way for us to gather, share experiences, and celebrate. It’s natural to assume that it’s easy to practise mindful eating when you are alone, but not when socializing. We may think that mindful eating can only be accomplished by focusing your full attention on your food and your body. This is one of the biggest misconceptions! There are many ways to observe mindfulness when socializing around food; chew slowly, grab a smaller plate, put your fork down between bites, etc. Mindful eating is not just about focused attention – it’s about the entire experience of getting to know your body. When you cultivate these skills, it is a wonderful way to stay present during meals with others, enjoying the food and the experience, and most importantly, knowing when to stop eating.
Mindful eating is about being present and listening to physical cues and understanding emotional triggers. The more you cultivate self-awareness, the more you recognize your unhealthy eating patterns. Mindful eating success is not measured by the scale, however, there is some research that shows that it could lead to weight loss. Sometimes weight loss can happen as a result of a mindful eating, because slowing down means you recognize your satiety level, and perhaps eat less since you feel fuller sooner. It is important to remember that mindful eating is a mindfulness tool, a way of cultivating presence and experiencing the moment for what it is.