The Benefits of Mindful Eating
Many of us eat the same way we do so much else in life: mindlessly.
We eat our meals while working, driving, or walking, so we barely even taste our food. We do this partly because we’re busy, but there are other reasons why we eat mindlessly.
Many of us also have a complex relationship with food. Some people eat to self-soothe, so they over-consume even when they’re not hungry. Others are on perpetual diets, so eating is an activity filled with stress, guilt and shame.
It’s important to understand that the problem isn’t food itself. The problem is our relationship with food. And we can improve that relationship through mindfulness.
Being mindful means paying attention to our present moment experience in a purposeful and non-judgemental way.
When we apply this practice to eating, we can free ourselves from unhealthy eating habits and enhance our overall quality of life.
So the question is how does mindful eating work?
Well, when we eat mindfully, we’re fully attentive and engaged. Our senses are open and heightened, so we entirely experience our food. We pay attention to the textures, colors, sounds, aromas, and flavors, and the result is that we enjoy the taste of our food much more.
Being mindful also helps us understand the emotions and circumstances that trigger our impulses to eat.
We better recognize how full or satiated we are before, during and after eating, so we’re less likely to under or over consume.
And of course, mindful eating means that we bring non-judgment to the table. Rather than responding to our actions with self-criticism and shame, we do so with compassion and love.
So the next time you sit down to a meal, I invite you to practice mindful eating.
Open your senses, eat slowly, and fully taste each bite.
Bring your full awareness to the experience, as well as kindness and non-judgment. And see how your relationship with food begins to change.
As Jan Chozen Bays said, “When we learn to eat mindfully, our eating can be transformed from a source of suffering to a source of renewal, self-understanding, and delight.”