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Mindful Eating: A Practice

“It is said that we can’t attain enlightenment, let alone feel contentment and joy, without seeing who we are and what we do, without seeing our patterns and our habits. This is called developing loving-kindness and unconditional friendship with ourselves.” – Pema Chodron

What is mindful eating?

Mindful eating is based on mindfulness, a form of meditation that helps you recognize and cope with your emotions and physical sensations. Mindful eating is about using mindfulness to reach a state of full attention to your experiences, cravings, and physical cues when eating. Mindful eating can be used to treat many conditions, including eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and various food-related behaviors as well as its power in us making a pro healthy life choice.

Mindful eating involves:

  • engaging your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds, textures, and flavors
  • learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food
  • eating to maintain overall health and well-being
  • noticing the effects food has on your feelings and figure
  • appreciating your food
  • eating slowly and without distraction
  • listening to physical hunger cues and eating only until you’re full
  • distinguishing between true hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating

These things allow you to replace automatic thoughts and reactions with more conscious, healthier responses.

A Practice to Eat Mindfully

With mindful eating, we develop kind-awareness of our experiences, physical cues, and feelings about food. Shifting from being controlled by food to being at ease.

Awareness of:

Physical cues of hunger Cravings

Experiences with: when, what, how and how much to eat Eating habits & where your energy goes

The Why & When of Eating:

Why do you eat?

Physical Signs of Hunger:

Emotional Triggered Eating:

Environmentally Triggered Eating:

Emotional eating is the use of food to regulate emotions, in other words, attempting to manage our mood with food. Food meets one need best, nourishment, to live our life! Eating when we’re not hungry will never meet our true needs. Mindful self-compassion allows us to care for ourselves.

Mindful Exercise: Surveying Your Inner World

Take time to check in with yourself, be comfortable, pause and take a few slow breaths in and out, then let your breath come & go naturally; allowing your body to relax. Then notice what you are thinking and how you are feeling, simply noticing as an observer without getting pulled into the story. Check in with yourself and what you might need. Proceed intentionally.

With Thanks to the Pen Bay Medical Center | Waldo County General Hospital

Practice for the Week

  1. What does the life you crave look like? (This is not some far off goal. This is your intention for how you want to live your life each day. What would you love to do, that your current relationship with food is preventing you from doing now?) Journal your answer.
  • Daily practice: 5 intentional breaths and surveying your inner world, thoughts and mood.
  • Practice being mindful through-out your day; pause and take a few slow breaths, and then notice your posture, your thoughts, feelings, and needs. Begin noticing what influences the actions you take.
  • Daily practice: Noticing physical hunger, external triggers and internal triggers.
  • Notice eating habits and write in a journal as many days as you can:

With kind awareness …

  • Why you are eating – no judgement, simply notice and record
    • When you feel like eating notice:
      • physical cues
      • Thoughts – internal triggers
      • feelings – internal triggers
      • environmental triggers – external triggers
    • What you feel like eating:
      • when you are hungry
      • when you are triggered by emotions, thoughts or the environment
    • What else you decide to do if not hungry & choose not to eat
    • How much you eat – notice how you feel after eating
      • Practice asking yourself before eating, “How do I want to feel after eating?”
    • Where do you use your fuel – what you do after eating
  • Research resources on mindfulness and share with the group what was helpful to you.

Christopher Willard of Mindful.org has produced the handy graphic below comparing Mindless and Mindful Eating.

SOURCES:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mindful-eating-guide#what-it-is

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