Mindfulness: Paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and without judgement.
Mindfulness allows us to:
- Nurture awareness and acceptance
- Be present for those moments where we can experience the richness in our lives
- Become open to the possibility of growth and transformation
- Realize that not all we feel and think is the “truth”
- Get back in touch with our own wisdom and vitality
Now what does mindfulness have to do with food and eating?
By being mindful when we eat, we adopt healthy eating habits that allow us to eat when we are hungry and continue until satisfied. It’s not about the foods we choose, it can be any food we like, but about eating till we get enough.
Healthy eating practices are positive, flexible, and are driven by internal cues to regulate it.
Take a moment to reflect how you were feeling during your last meal or snack. Did you feel: Rushed? Happy? Stressed? Excited? Anxious? Guilty? Bored? A mixture of all of the above?
Turning the mirror on myself for a moment, right before typing this piece, I downed a handful of tortilla chips and recalled feeling rushed as I was trying to squeeze in a quick snack while running errands.
In that instance I was truly hungry and rushing to eat due to being pressed for time. But I know there are other moments when I have “eaten my feelings”. By that I mean, either I was stressed or tired and that somehow turned into eating half of a medium pizza or half of a pint size Talenti Carmel Cookie Crunch Gelato ( true story…). It is during these moments that I challenge myself to cue in to what/how I am feeling and identify is there another response to these feelings other than eating.
A few tools to help separate out hunger from other feelings include keeping a Food/Mod log or doing a quick internal hunger scale where you ask yourself : How hungry am I ? How do I know that? Where else can I re-direct these feelings?
Mindful eating allows you to be present and also acknowledges your emotions around eating.
Maybe mindfulness enables you to have one slice of cake instead of two when you are stressed. Or it encourages you to exercise the next day or cutback on your guilty pleasure the next week. Or maybe you want a milkshake simply because you just want a milkshake. Whatever the case may be, being mindful allows us to be one or to be present with our food and not see food as an emotional crutch.
These are just a few helpful practices that can break the cycle of guilt/remorse that can be associated with eating. I challenge you this week to practice mindful eating and share you observations in the comments below.
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