Mindful Eating

When was the last time you ate a meal without a piece of technology in front of you?

For most of my life, I have entertained myself with Netflix, social media, or school work while eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner (not to mention all the snack times in between). Upon completing an eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course, I realized how much mindful awareness was missing from my everyday life.

Mindful awareness, also referred to as simple awareness, is paying attention to what you are currently doing or experiencing. It can be practiced in tasks such as noting smells, brushing your teeth, washing dishes, etc.

When you think of eating, I’m sure you would say you had a pleasurable experience. Reflect back for a moment. Is the feeling you had based on the overall experience, or due to the actual consumption of the food being pleasurable?

More often than not, we engage in habitual eating, which is simply eating without being fully aware of what you are doing, how it tastes, etc. Sometimes, we eat in a hurry or eat as an avoidance tactic; a way of taking your mind off the things causing you stress. When we eat in such ways, we allow our stomachs to be filled; however, our mouths and minds will remain in a state of dissatisfaction because it takes about twenty minutes for your brain to realize you are full. As you can imagine, this can quickly lead to overeating and eating for an unhealthy purpose.

Author Daniel Kahneman writes in his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow about a study done with three other psychologists and an economist. This study was conducted about experienced well-being, using French and American women as the sample. The findings sparked a familiar fire in me about mindfulness and eating. Such findings included information about how our current emotional states are largely determined by what we attend to in the present moment. In other words, we receive either pleasure or pain by what we choose to attend to in the present moment.

For instance, Kahneman suggests, “To get pleasure from eating, you must notice that you are doing it”. He then further explains how, for French women, eating is more focal than for American women. This is because Americans more often combine eating with other activities. By doing so, the potential pleasure we can receive from eating is diminished.

As often as we eat, it should be something we are more mindful about. Being fully aware of what you are eating and why you are eating it has the power to transform your relationship with food. There is a lack of people in America today who have a healthy relationship with food. Fortunately, mindful eating is one of many tools that can help transform your relationship with food consumption.

Below I included a few facts from Jan Chozen Bays article on mindful eating:

-Eating is one of the most pleasurable things we do every single day as humans.

-You are less prone to overeating when focusing your mind on eating rather than focusing on other things.

-To maintain a “first bite” experience when eating a meal, be fully aware of what you are eating, not walking around or reading or thinking about something else. Fully focus on what food is in front of you and every bite can taste just like the first bite

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