“Mindful eating? So is there also mindless eating?”
The answer is positive.
Many of us are actually mindless eaters without evening noticing. From a harmless chocolate bar to a big treat of Thanksgiving turkey, every time you take an extra bite when you are already so full, you are doing mindless eating.
Mindless eating is an unconscious, robotic way of eating. It makes you appreciate your food less but eat more than you need. Some don’t even remember what they’ve had and occasionally regret eating too much right after they’ve done it.
Different from eating mindlessly, mindful eating can connect ourselves with the food.
What Is Mindful Eating?
According to Harvard Medical School, Mindfulness means focusing on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
Eating is a vital part of our lives but we keep neglecting it. We spend a lot of time doing other things like writing, playing games or driving while eating mindlessly. The fact we haven’t given “eating” full attention leads to an unnecessarily increasing consumption of food.
Moreover, our unaware integument also gives us all kinds of diseases including obesity.
Why Is Mindful Eating Important?
Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation practice may help improve depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other mental health conditions. In general, the benefits of practicing mindful eating are:
- Increase awareness of hunger and fullness
- To lose weight
- The relief
- Better digestion
- Reduce overeating
- Increase your food satisfaction
- Make healthier food choices
Ways of Having Mindful Eating
Know your body’s signals – Too often, we eat when our mind tells us to, rather than our bodies. True mindful eating is actually listening deeply to our body’s signals for hunger. Ask yourself: Why should I eat extra food? Is it stress, sadness, frustration, loneliness or even just boredom which triggers it?
Understand your motivations – People tend to eat more than we need when we are suffering negative emotions. Ask yourself if is it comforting food or a healthy meal you really need and won’t regret an hour later?
Focusing on your food – Eating is the only thing you do when you are doing it. We’ve all had the experience of going to the movies with our bag full of popcorn and only got an empty bag when the movie ends. We should slow down, listen to our bodies’ needs and only do one thing, which is having your food, at a time.
Appreciate your food – Pause for a minute or two before you begin eating. Clear your mind like in a meditation class, silently express your gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy delicious food and the companions you’re enjoying it with.
Bring all your senses to the meal – This is the most important procedure as it can really connect ourselves to our food. We need to chew thoroughly, explore the taste and try to identify all the ingredients, especially seasonings.
Eat slowly – If you follow the advice above, you won’t throw your food down the throat. Try to seek out the satisfaction brought by the sense of feeling full. Devote at least five minutes to mindful eating before you chat with your tablemates.
Mindful eating is an eating habit as well as a balanced lifestyle which bring our bodies and minds back together. It may take time to get the hang of mindful eating. Be patient and compassionate as you learn this new skill and change old eating habits. Over time, mindful eating may help reduce overeating and improve well-being.