“Mindful eating is a way to become reacquainted with the guidance of our internal nutritionist”- Jan Chozen Bays
Mindful eating is an art that helps us acquire control over our eating habits. It promotes weight loss and makes us feel better. Mindful eating is a concept based on mindfulness. Mindfulness is a meditative state of mind that helps us in dealing with our emotions. With mindful eating, we may treat eating disorders, various food-related behaviours such as binge eating. Mindful eating is basically about using mindfulness to reach a state of full concentration while eating. It encourages us to take good care of ourselves by gaining awareness of our eating experiences.
Fundamentally, mindful eating involves:
- Eating slowly
- Chewing thoroughly
- Eating without distraction
- Eating in silence
- Eliminate distractions
- Responding to the hunger cues
- Eating only until full
- Differentiating between true-hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating
- Perceiving colors, smells, textures and flavors of food while eating
- Eating to maintain overall health and mental health.
- Concentrating on every effect food has on our feelings and body.
- Appreciating and relishing our food
By doing this we may replace automatic thoughts and reactions with more conscious, healthier responses.
Why should we adapt mindful eating?
We live in a fast-paced society. Even the act of eating has become fast. We have no proper time to eat and as such, we eat fast. Because of this habit of eating fast, the signal of being full may not arrive until we have already eaten too much. Eating has become a mindless act – the act which has to be done quickly as there is no ‘me-time’. On top of that, in our actual time of eating we shift our attention and get distracted towards television, computer and smartphone. Mindful eating helps us in restoring and shifting our attention from other stimuli so that we may focus on making eating an intentional act rather than an automatic one. The idea is to just slow down.
Knowing our triggers is quite essential, as by knowing our hunger triggers we can create a space between them and our response, providing us time and freedom to choose. Thus just by changing the way we think about food, by awareness and mindfulness, and by positive emotions – we can address the issues of unwanted eating.
Mindful eating and unhealthy eating behaviors
Mindful eating provides us with the skills needed to deal with impulses. We quietly become in charge of our responses and move away from the whim of our instinct. Mindful eating methods also help in reducing:
- Emotional eating: The act of eating in response to certain emotions
- External eating: The act of eating in response to environmental and food-related cues, such as the sight or smell of food
How to implement mindful eating?
Pay attention to what we are eating. Bring full awareness to each bite of food that you consume. It begins with the first thought of the food and lasts until the final bite is swallowed. Mindful eating is not about rules and regulations; instead, it is about our thoughtfulness and individual experience. It is about being present while we eat. Let us stop and take a moment to feel and savour each bite, to check have we had enough? Do we need more? Or is it time to stop. Mindfulness encourages us to trust in our own decisions rather than being restricted by rules about what and when to eat, to live fully in the moment and appreciate our life as it is.
The article is contributed by Saransha Oswal. For feedback, contact: [email protected]