You may have heard the term mindful eating. Yes, it’s definitely a hot topic in the world of health right now, but mindful eating is a practice that has been encouraged as a way to achieve better nutrition for many decades.
Even the word “mindful” can sound a little trendy to some. A good way to think about mindfulness is simply being more in touch with your feelings and bodily sensations.
Did you know that the word feelings is actually describing emotions that are manifested as sensations? For example, when you’re stressed, you may have sweaty palms, or shallow breathing – these are sensations that you feel, related to your emotions. Emotions, feelings and hunger/fullness cues are all connected.
What are the benefits of mindful eating?
Mindful eating can help you:
- Identify when you’re actually hungry verses when you’re eating out of habit or emotion
- Identify when you’re comfortably full
- Be more selective with what you eat
- Improve digestion
- Gain more enjoyment from eating
- Have more trust with yourself that you can eat the right amount of food for your body.
3 steps to start mastering mindful eating
You might not be an expert mindful eater right away, but you’ve got to start somewhere. Begin today, by noticing your feelings of hunger, light hunger, light fullness and stronger fullness during the day. Try to eat when you’re hungry for a meal or snack instead of waiting to feel ravenous. Pay attention to when you’re filling up instead of automatically finishing everything on your plate.
Be curious, not judgmental. Always be kind and compassionate with the way you talk to yourself about food. Instead of beating yourself up if you overeat, try to think “what can I learn from this?” Try to think about what you can do differently next time. Maybe eating slower, or not reading or watching TV while you’re eating will help you stop at the right place.
Repeat, repeat, repeat! The concept of neuroplasticity – is the idea that the communication channels that direct our behavior in our brains actually do change over time. The key to real change is repetition. So give yourself time to repeat these new mindful eating practices and you will notice over time that this will become the new way of eating you prefer. Many people actually see that they learn to automatically eat mindfully because it feels so much better.
Did you know?
Research shows that between 40-60% of people seeking weight loss struggle with some level of binge eating. There are so many amazing resources to help people with mindful eating. A great book on this topic is Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat by Michelle May, M.D.
If you need support and treatment work with our Registered Dietitians who are well educated in binge and emotional eating.