And at its most basic level, mindful eating is simple – but diving into the vast realm of mindful eating, you will soon realize that it’s anything but boring.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is the act of paying attention while you eat.
Some of the basic principles of mindful eating include:
- Slowing down while you eat
- Removing distractions while you eat
- Exploring the full range of sensory experience that the food has to offer you, including the sight, sound, taste, touch and texture of food.
- Being fully present, mindful and engaged with the act of eating.
- Paying attention to hunger and fullness cues.
Sounds simple right? But the practice of mindful eating is extremely profound and extends far beyond simply slowing down to eat a meal or removing distractions while you eat – although these are foundational components of mindful eating – but it’s also much richer than that.
Exploring Mindful Eating Beyond the Basics
After reading the basics of mindful eating you might be thinking to yourself: “So the basic guidelines for mindful eating are to slow, down chew my food and not eat while I’m watching TV? What’s the big deal, how life changing can that really be?”
This seemingly ordinary process of mindful eating has the capacity to offer you major insights into your relationship with food. This is because how we relate to food and eating is actually very complex, associated with emotions, deeply engrained habits and unquestioned belief systems, to name a few. And although we can define mindful eating as “paying attention while you eat” there’s really quite a lot you can be paying attention to, including both your inner and your outer environment – both of which offer a lifetime’s worth of exploration.
We eat for two primary reasons:
- Because we’re actually physically hungry
- Because we’re triggered to eat
Quite often, most of us eat because of reason number 2. Under this category there are thousands upon thousands of ways that we’re all triggered to eat, most of the time without even noticing it. These habitual triggers are what prevent many people from making long-lasting dietary changes that stick. For many people, mindful eating is that missing component that can help them to make healthy changes in their life that they’ve been struggling to make.
So although the term mindful eating refers to the act of eating and paying attention while you eat to both your inner and outer reality, the larger concept of mindful eating extends out beyond that and encompasses your relationship with food and eating. It extends out to the moments before and after you eat, and everything in between. That’s quite a lot to explore, don’t you think? Mindful eating is about cultivating a healthy relationship with food that feels balanced, supportive, gratifying, pleasurable, nourishing and satisfying.
Your relationship with food reflects and encompasses your relationship to your self, including the exploration of your thinking mind, your feeling body and the energy underlying your emotions. It can help you see habitual patterns that you may no longer want to hold onto, and it can help you work with food cravings, chronic overeating and food addiction.
Getting curious and fully exploring your relationship with food can teach you a lot about yourself, about your body, about the miracle of food and even the miracle of life itself.
Sounds deep, right? That’s because it is.
Mindful eating has the capacity to fully transform your relationship with food. And for many people, mindful eating offers a much-welcomed, positive change that feels like a long-awaited joyful reunion with your body and with the simple pleasures of food and eating.
Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii,
Laura Dawn, Author of Mindful Eating for Dummies