WHAT IS MINDFUL EATING?
Mindfulness is pretty simple really. It’s about being really present in the moment.
It sounds easy enough, but all too often we get bogged down with thoughts of the past gone, and preoccupied with a future that doesn´t exist, when the reality is that the present moment is all we really have.
BUT WHY DO WE DO THIS?
Our hardwiring is designed to keep us safe from all the dangers our old world used to present, like dangerous predators.
LIONS, AND TIGERS, AND BEARS, OH MY!
So, it is a survival strategy to constantly be worrying about threats around us, but one that doesn’t serve us so well anymore. It therefore takes practice to be able to centre ourselves in a world
that offers false dangers, like the constant stress of checking emails, to do lists, and eating ‘perfectly’.
When you are mindful, you have an awareness of the present moment without judgement for yourself or anything. It is as though you are slowing down time and looking at yourself as almost an observer.
Observing your thoughts, your feelings, your physical sensations in your body, and also the details we so often miss of your surroundings like smells, minor details, and noises.
All of your senses are available, and activated, so you can better understand your motives and actions without any judgement and with lots of compassion. This slowing down can help you to choose your actions so that you start living life instead of letting it live you.
SO HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO FOOD?
When applied to food, Mindfulness allows us to take a break from the mental analysis of what we’re eating, and instead helps us to accept, and hopefully enjoy the experience.
You stop obsessing over dieting food rules of good or bad, healthy, or unhealthy, and instead start to really taste what you’re eating to gauge how you want your eating experience to be. An internal feedback system where you’re the boss, and you trust that healthy eating is within your control. That might look like:
Slowing down to eat
Sitting down instead of standing up or walking
Noticing the flavours and texture
Taking calming breaths before/during the meal
Checking in with thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations
Many people find that when they’re mindful, they’re better equipped to actually taste food and interestingly enough, that many times, they don’t really enjoy the food that they thought the enjoyed eating, or they really don’t feel comfortable with the amount of food they usually consume.
This awareness is hard to have if your experience is always rushed.
NOBODY SAID IT WAS EASY!
Imagine for example that food can easily be a distraction from emotions. Doing something as intentional as checking in with your emotions while you eat, will of course interrupt the habit, but if your emotions are painful then watching tv while feeding yourself a huge bucket of ice cream is a great way to zone out and numb the pain.
THE MOMENT YOU NOTICE YOU ARE BEING MINDLESS, YOU ARE BEING MINDFUL
But you know what the great thing about being mindful is, right?
It’s that’s regardless of the feedback that you receive from being self-aware, you
can just keep eating in the moment, in whatever way you want, if you want to.
Nothing has to change if you don’t want it to, or you aren’t ready.
You may notice you are avoiding pain, hurt, sadness, physical discomfort and beyond.
Mindfulness isn’t a diet to tell you when to stop eating, or how slow or fast, or whatever. It is about learning to become aware of what you are doing in the moment, rather than switching off, and eating mindlessly on autopilot, because the moment that you notice that you are being mindless, you are being mindful.
ISN’T THAT FANTASTIC!
This awareness you’ll develop (without pressure to change), will begin to interrupt the habit of overeating, and eventually help you to break the cycle, and start the road to unlocking what it is, that keeps you overeating.