There are multiple avenues to practicing mindfulness in our daily life and, in the process, support our physical and mental health.
We can apply a mindful approach to eating.
Eating mindfully is all about cultivating a healthy relationship with food and your body, marked by flexibility and self-compassion. Mindful eating helps us become aware of our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations related to eating, reconnecting us with our innate inner wisdom about hunger and satiety (The Center for Mindful Eating – Home).
“Research has shown that mindful eating can lead to greater psychological wellbeing, increased pleasure when eating, and body satisfaction. Combining behavioral strategies such as mindfulness training with nutrition knowledge can lead to healthful food choices that reduce the risk of chronic diseases, promote more enjoyable meal experiences, and support a healthy body image.”
A few tips for eating mindfully:
- Allow yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom.
- Use all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body.
- Acknowledge your responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral) without judgment.
- Become aware of your physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating.
Example of A Mindful Eating Approach
There are many approaches to eating mindfully rather than one standard technique or protocol.
One approach is described by E. Tribole and E. Resch in their book, Intuitive Eating. They explain intuitive eating as a way to honor our health by paying attention to the messages of our bodies and meeting our physical and emotional needs. Its opposite allows our appearance-based culture to rigidly and judgmentally dictate how we think about our bodies, food and our eating choices.
Key principles of intuitive eating include (Tribole & Resch):
- Reject the “diet mentality” that is the backdrop for an appearance-based culture
- Listen to and honor your hunger
- Make peace with food and give yourself permission to eat what you like
- Challenge the unreasonable food rules and belief systems that dieting has created (e.g., guilt about eating food and thinking about food in moralistic terms)
- Feel your fullness: Listen to the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hunger
- Discover satisfaction with food
- Cope with your feelings without using food
- Respect your body, and your genetic blueprint, so you can feel better about who you are.
- Get active and feel the difference in how you can move your body
- Honor your health with gentle nutrition that reflects a healthy relationship with food.
For more by Tribole and Resch, see Our Books – Intuitive Eating
Two things to note in closing (Harvard T.H. Chang School of Public Health): Mindful eating is not a replacement for traditional treatments for clinical conditions such as eating disorders. Mindful eating is also not in and of itself meant to be a weight loss/gain strategy. Rather, it embraces making food choices that promote well-being and enjoyment of the eating experience.