The Power of Eating Mindfully
“Mindful eating has the powerful potential to transform people’s relationship to food and eating, to improve overall health, body image, relationships and self-esteem.” The Center for Eating Mindfully
Take a moment and think about the old adage: “You are what you eat.” If you really think about it, the role of food becomes deeply important. Food nourishes the body, and gives you energy to live your life. It creates the arms that hold your baby, the legs that carry you on your journeys, and all of the other miraculous parts that embody you. When considered in this way how could you not mindfully choose, prepare and eat that food.
The term mindfulness simply means paying attention to the present moment, to what is happening in your mind, body and the environment, nonjudgmentally. When practicing mindfulness you learn to slow down, to focus on one thing at a time and to accept reality as it.
You don’t have to make a huge time commitment to benefit from mindfulness practice. All it takes is 3 minutes to reap the rewards. Researchers have found that people who devote as little as 3 minutes a day to mindfulness practice, change rewire their brains and improve their lives.
Try being mindful for 3 minutes: Take 3 minutes, and focus on your breath. Just notice what comes to mind, and let it go like a leaf floating down a river. Notice what is happening in your body, in you mind, in your environment, etc. If you get lost in thought just bring yourself back without judging yourself.
When considered mindfully, judgments about weight and food fall away. Weight becomes just a number on the scale, just information to use in adjusting your eating and moving habits. The adversarial relationship with food evolves into one of nourishment and pleasure.
Studies find that when people eat mindfully they eat less and enjoy the food more. When you practice eating mindfully you change your perception about food. Any previous conflicts with food fall away over time. You begin to listen to your body's needs. You learn to notice when you're hungry and when you're full. You come to think in terms of balance and moderation rather than deprivation. So foods you once vilified can now be enjoyed.
Try eating mindfully: Prepare a meal. Eat it slowly, putting your fork down between each bite. Notice the smell, taste, texture, temperature as you eat. Notice any thoughts that pop up. Just notice them, and let them go. Notice any emotions that are evoked. Notice any sensations in the body as you eat. Particularly pay attention as your hunger begins to be satisfied. Listen to your body and stop eating when you are full. When you have completed your meal notice how you feel.
Of course, eating this way at every meal is not feasible for most people, and that’s okay. You can incorporate mindful eating into your life in whatever way makes sense. Some days that may mean taking a few mindful bites of breakfast before rushing out the door. You don’t need to devote hours.
By making at least small efforts everyday and larger efforts when you are able you can profoundly reshape your relationship with food.
For more information about mindfulness, please visit me at www.rebekahshackney.com.