Mindful eating is a holistic and compassionate approach to weight & eating. Most diets impose harsh dietary restrictions and do not take your individual circumstances into account. In contrast, “mindful eating” involves deliberately & compassionately tuning in to your own inner experiences, including thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. With this focus, you begin to be more aware of the sensory aspects of eating, such as the taste and texture of food, when you feel hungry and full, and whether you are actually hungry or just bored, anxious, tired, sad or angry.
Below are some mindful principles that can help eat and live healthier:
1. Begin to notice in what ways your eating is automatic and “mindless.”
When hungry, do you automatically reach for the tub of ice cream or fries, without taking time to note what you are really hungry for? Do you eat while multitasking, such as while you are watching TV, texting, driving, or working? Do you gulp the food down quickly without really tasting it? Begin to notice your automatic patterns & habits around eating that stop you from being fully present.
2. Slow down and focus on your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations.
Notice the way your breath flows in and out of your body and how this changes when you get anxious. Become aware of the thoughts, feelings, and sensations you are having when you eat. Do you feel helpless or ashamed; angry or rebellious? Sit down when you eat and stop doing other things. Try to eat slowly, noticing the taste and texture of the food. Put your fork down between bites. Try to eat slowly and savor the experience of eating.
3. Develop positive rituals around food and eating
Many overweight people associate eating with shame, self-hatred, and helplessness. You may eat quickly or secretively. You may think negative or self-punishing thoughts when you eat. Mindful eating involves reaching for the positive instead.Take time to shop for groceries. Try to buy the freshest, most natural, colorful and tasty foods you can afford. Before you eat, take a moment to notice the sight and smell of the food and breathe in its flavor. Take a moment to feel or express gratitude for the meal.
4. Choose a way of eating you can live with forever
A typical diet involves restricting food intake for quick weight loss to reach a particular goal in as short a time as possible. The problem is that when the goal is reached, you revert back to your old patterns and quickly put weight back on again. You begin to feel like a failure. With mindful eating, the focus is on developing healthier eating and exercise patterns that you can live with for the rest of your life. Healthy living is something positive that can add pleasure and energy to your life. Mindful eating can change your relationship with food from guilt and self-recrimination, to self-compassion and nourishment.
Copyright by Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. All rights reserved.