Mindfulness is an ancient practice of being present. It can be defined as a “quality of consciousness that is characterized by continually attending to one’s moment-to-moment experiences, thoughts, and emotions with an open, non-judgmental approach.” Mindfulness has been used in a variety of therapeutic settings as it can improve the way we process emotions and help us reduces stress. In recent years, the concept of mindfulness has been applied to how we think about nourishing our body with food.
Mindful eating is about listening to our physical sensations, like hunger, fullness and satisfaction cues and taking time to notice our thoughts and emotions while eating so we can have a more enjoyable and healthful eating experience.
Mindful eating involves:
- Noticing the smell, taste and texture of food
- Reducing the speed of eating so you can focus on your food
- Responding to food choices without guilt
- Becoming aware of physical hunger, fullness and satisfaction cues to decide what, when and how much to eat
There are many benefits to eating mindfully. Let’s review a few of them.
- Mindful eating can create a healthier mindset around food.
Sometimes, our thoughts related to food aren’t very helpful. Negative thoughts about weight gain or eating unhealthy foods can create a fearful or anxious attitude when it comes to food. When we eat mindfully, we are practicing responding to our eating choices without guilt. Instead of condemning thoughts, we practice nonjudgmental language related to food. This nonjudgmental tone can increase self-compassion, which can improve our psychological well-being.
- Mindful eating can help us have a more peaceful experience with food.
Research shows that undereating or restricting certain foods can cause us to overeat them later. When we eat mindfully, we are taking time to notice what kinds of and how much food we need to feel full and satisfied. By frequently checking in with hunger, we don’t go too long without eating enough food. In this way, eating mindfully can help reduce overeating or binge eating as we become more aware of physical hunger and satisfaction cues and what foods will help us achieve optimal fullness.
- Mindful eating can reduce mindless eating or eating food when we aren’t really hungry.
There are distractions all around us, and sometimes they can get in the way of having an enjoyable eating experience because we aren’t present when eating. Removing distractions – or at the very least acknowledging them – can help reduce mindless eating. It’s not that we need to always be hyperaware of everything we eat but paying attention to our food environment can prevent us from eating when we aren’t hungry or past fullness.
What is the biggest benefit of mindful eating?
Mindful eating allows us to build awareness during our eating experiences and establish a more positive relationship with food.
Check out our video below for a fun way to share this message!