What is Mindful Eating?
By Jessica Charbonneau, LCSW
It is extremely common and effortless to eat in an uncontrolled, unaware, mindless manner. If you have ever continued to snack when you were full, cut calories despite being hungry, or used emotions to direct your eating, you have experienced mindless eating first hand.
Mindfulness is a skill that is often misunderstood. It is centuries old and has been adopted from Buddhist practices. Anyone can develop it and it can be applied to most any situations that arise in our lives. Mindfulness is deliberately paying attention and being fully aware of what is happening both inside and outside us. It is a “Be here right now” approach to living. When we are in a mindful state, we experience awareness without judgment, criticism or the desire to change ourselves. Mindfulness is appreciating who we are right now, not yearning for what we don’t have at the present moment.
Mindful eating is accepting the idea that in order to change the way we eat, we must develop discipline over our minds not our forks. Mindfulness encourages us to study our thought patterns, emotional moods and various appetites instead of allowing old habits, automatic thoughts and the desire to eat mindlessly to be in control.
Once a person learns to be mindful, their world changes. They become more aware and focused on what is really happening around them. They begin to more clearly see and understand their feelings, fears and food needs. Eating with a clear head makes it easier to correct longstanding maladaptive eating patterns.