So what is Mindful Eating?
I like to think of Mindful Eating as paying attention to the eating experience with an attitude of curiosity, kindness, and adaptability.
The foundation of Mindful Eating is mindfulness, or to put in another way, paying attention.
Paying attention involves bringing our full consciousness to the eating experience.
This is often easier said than done.
Sometimes our minds become distracted by conversations, by the television, by thoughts of the past, or the future. This is natural and normal. To continue eating mindfully, every time you notice this happening, bring your attention back to the experience of eating.
The eating experience can include:
- The food’s appearance, smell, texture, size, temperature, and taste
- Your bodily sensations, hunger and fullness cues
- Any thoughts or emotions related to the food being eaten
However, it is not enough to simply pay attention to the eating experience. Your attitude plays a key role in mindful eating.
- An openness to exploring the eating experience, whether having a brand new food or something you’ve had many times before
- A child-like sense of play, a willingness to have fun
- “I wonder what this bite will taste like?”
- Compassion for yourself throughout the eating process, acknowledging eating as an act of self-care, offering yourself forgiveness, patience, and understanding when you make mistakes.
- An example of kindly bringing my attention back to the meal: “Opps, my mind wandered. Back to this meal now, I can do this.”
- Compassion for the food you’re consuming and for the people who were involved in bringing it from farm to table
- Accepting that all experiences are impermanent– your mistakes, your successes, good-tasting food, bad-tasting food, feelings of boredom, feelings of happiness– and adapting to your experience as they change.
- An example of adaptability: “Hmm, these chips no longer taste as good to me as they did a few minutes ago, maybe I’ll stop eating them now.”
Chances are, you can think of a few examples of when you’ve already applied these attitudes of curiosity, kindness, and adaptability in your life. For instance, have you been driven by curiosity to Google a recent event? Have you patiently waited for a traffic light to change? Have you changed your plans when the weather took a turn for the worse?
While Mindful Eating may be a new concept, you’ve likely used many of the same skills involved in mindful eating in other aspects of your life. Applying these principles to eating takes practice, but rest assured, you have all the skills you need to succeed.