Mindful eating (also known as intuitive eating), a concept with its roots in Buddhist teachings, aims to reconnect us more deeply with the experience of eating – and enjoying – our food.
Mindfulness is a simple but radical approach to living. With mindfulness one becomes more aware and accepting and gaining mastery over experiences by paying attention, noticing one’s breath and being more present in the moment, as opposed to living for the moment. Mindfulness is a nonjudgmental approach that involves acceptance and dedicating special attention to one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It is about attending to one’s biological rhythms while learning the differences between those rhythms and emotionally driven, short-term desires. Mindfulness is about changing one’s relationship to the body and emotions so one can fully experience any given situation as well as improve performance in demanding situations.
In a study looking at the impact of mindfulness approaches on the diet, exercise and eating behavior of adolescents, ninth-graders from six high school health physical education classes were randomly assigned to the control group, which just continued health classes or 12-week sessions of mindfulness intervention.
Intervention was made to start with easier techniques such as breathing awareness meditation, where students were made to focus on the movement of their diaphragm as a way to learn to pay more attention to their bodies. The dozen sessions also included researchers using chocolate to increase awareness of taste and taste satiety, explaining how emotions can trigger overeating as well as the benefit of mindful movement, including using pedometers and walking meditation.
About 20 percent of intervention participants reported they were not conscious of the fact that they were eating too fast or that they were uncomfortable afterward
Tips to Mindfulness Eating
- Eat slower: Eating slowly Is a good idea to remind yourself, that eating is not a race. Taking the time to savor and enjoy your food is one of the healthiest things you can do.
- Pay attention to flavor: The tanginess of a lemon, the spicyness of arugula, the crunch of a pizza crust – paying attention to the details of our food can be a great way to start eating mindfully. Consider talking more about the flavors and textures of food with your family while dining.
- Enjoy food in an electronic-free zone: Our daily lives are full of distractions, and it’s not uncommon for families to eat with the TV blaring or one family member or other fiddling with their iPhone. Consider making family mealtime, which should, of course, be eaten together, an electronics-free zone.
- Create a soothing ambiance: Your environment can have a huge impact on how much you eat, so it’s important to create a soothing ambiance. Set the table with flowers and avoid distracting sounds or visuals as well as anything that makes you physically uncomfortable so you can focus on your food instead.
- Employ all your senses while having food: For e.g. Eat a raisin like it’s the first time you have seen one. Observe the deep, purple-brown colors and the raisin’s wrinkles and fold. Smell it. Touch it. As you take a bite, slow down and actually taste it. Try doing the same with your own meals – even if it’s the same breakfast you eat every day.
- Accept what you’re feeling: Mindfulness isn’t about hiding from how you feel. What matters is noticing and accepting your emotions. By allowing them to come over you without fighting them, you may realize that ultimately they do pass on their own, and that your emotions don’t have to rule you.
It’s always good to be more aware of your thoughts and feelings especially during meals.