Eating is a natural, healthy, and pleasurable activity for satisfying hunger. However, in our diet-obsessed culture, eating is often mindless, consuming, and guilt-inducing instead. So, what is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is eating with intention of caring for yourself. Also, mindful eating is eating with the attention necessary for noticing and enjoying your food and its effects on your body. Yes, mindful eating is much more than taking your time, eating slowly, without distraction. While these things are important while you are eating a meal, there are many more suggestions for us to consider, such as:
• Awareness of your physical and emotional cues – How do I feel?
• Recognition of your non-hunger triggers for
eating – Stomach growling, Headaches
• Learning to meet your other needs in more effective ways than eating – Exercising, Meditation
• Choosing food for both enjoyment and nourishment – Meal Planning, Tracking Meals
• Eating for optimal satisfaction and satiety – Enjoying your food one bite at a time
• Using the fuel you have consumed to live the vibrant life you crave – You are what you eat
Unfortunately, there are many people who struggle with food and react mindlessly to their unrecognized or unexamined triggers, thoughts, and feelings. Mindful eating helps to increase your awareness of these patterns without judgment and creates a healthy space between your triggers and your actions.
According to Michelle May MD, you should follow a simple model called “Mindful Eating Cycle” to help you become aware and in charge of the hundreds of eating decisions you make every day. The “Mindful Eating Cycle” consists of the following questions:
• WHY? – Why do I eat or what is driving my eating cycle at any giving time?
• WHEN? – When do I feel like eating? Who do I think about when eating? When do I decide to eat?
• WHAT? – What do I eat? What do I choose from all the available options?
• HOW? – How do I eat? How, specifically, do I get the food I’ve chosen into my body?
• HOW MUCH? – How much do I eat? How much fuel do I consume?
• WHERE? Where do I invest the energy I consume? Where does the fuel I’ve consumed go?
Mindful eating helps us to resolve any emotional eating patterns or better understand our troubled love-hate relationship with food. It’s important to not only enjoy the food we eat at meal time, but also develop a healthier, happier relationship with food by recognizing our triggers, thoughts, and feelings. So, at meal time remember – Eat Mindfully, Live Vibrantly!