What is mindful eating?

>Take a second to think about the last meal you ate. What was it like? Think about the environment. The smells. Where you ate. How you were sitting. The items in front of you. The people in front of you. Where your food came from and who cooked it.

Mindful eating involves an intentional, present way of being while eating a meal…almost like meditating. With technology at the forefront these days, it is difficult to simply sit down and enjoy a meal with yourself or a loved one.

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M I N D F U L  E A T I N G is many things, including:

  • Acknowledging your intentions for the meal
  • Eating slowly
  • Knowing your food and its origins 
  • Using all of your senses to enjoy your meal
  • Turning off electronics and removing distractions 
  • Recognizing your emotions before, during, and after eating

Why is it important to practice mindful eating?

  • It supports a healthy relationship with food. Our culture tends to practice poor eating habits, not just nutritionally, but ritually, as well. I am a HUGE offender of this. I used to love eating my meals on the couch or even in bed in front of a television screen…so much so that I would get ANNOYED at the idea of sitting at a table to eat my dinner. WHAT?! After practicing mindful eating, I have began to improve my relationship with food: one of appreciation and gratitude. It is not easy at first, but the benefits are monumental.
  • It forces you to think about your emotional state & intentions behind what you’re about to eat. Ugh. This one hits home for me. I have been an emotionally-driven eater my ENTIRE life. Food was always a way for me to crawl into myself and find safety from whatever I was avoiding. That bowl of ice cream or extra plate of spaghetti somehow had a way of making me feel satisfied…but only for a brief moment! <—THIS is the key. When you emotionally eat, you are allowing food to CONTROL you, rather than NOURISH you. Taking away distractions allows us to examine how we are feeling emotionally before we eat, therefore giving us control over our nutritional decisions.
  • It encourages you to KNOW what you’re putting into your body. This is the most significant benefit of mindful eating. If we eat mindlessly, we are unaware of what we are putting into our bodies. Our sanctuary. It sounds harsh, but it is disrespectful to your body and your health to eat mindlessly. When we sit to eat a meal and we are fully engaged, we can utilize all of our senses to appreciate what we have prepared or what someone else may have prepared for us! The crunch of the vegetables. The fragrant spices. The abundance of colors. And most importantly, if we are about to make a poor decision about what we are putting into our bodies, we can practice full awareness of HOW IT MAKES US FEEL afterward.
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I like to use this flow chart, especially when I am stressed or overly emotional in some way. It has helped me gain control over my relationship with food.


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