Weighing in on Mindful EatingPosted: January 20, 2017
With International Mindful Eating Day approaching January 26th, what better time than the present to evaluate how mindful you are towards nourishment? If you are like many other Americans out there, you may find yourself mindlessly eating. When we eat this way, we neglect our full experience around eating. We may grab something on the go and pay no attention to what or how much we are eating. Perhaps you’re multi-tasking; working, reading, watching TV, surfing the Internet or just doing other things while eating. Without paying attention to the experience of eating, we may overeat, for our minds are not registering what our bodies are doing. After all, it takes about 20 minutes for our brains to catch up to our bodies. Enter the feeling of being over full, and maybe a bit guilty around finishing those cookies, bag of chips, bottle of wine or <insert your vice here>. And then what do many of us do? We beat ourselves up over our choices.
In contrast to mindless eating, when we bring mindfulness to the table, we bring our awareness to the act of eating. We bring curiosity and begin to question our intent for eating. Are we really hungry, or are we looking to comfort or distract ourselves from doing something else, or feeling a certain way? We may notice our tendencies to like or dislike certain foods, as well as the conditioned rules we may have around eating in general. We begin to look at our food differently—noticing even the smallest nuances about our meal; the way it looks in color, texture, shape and density. We tune into the fragrance of our food, or the way it feels in our mouths as we take that first bite and then two more (after the first three bites the intensity of flavor and other qualities of food fade as our bodies adapt). We notice the sound the food makes as we chew. And we give plenty of time towards chewing to experience all we can. After swallowing the food, we may follow our awareness down into our stomachs and notice how it makes us feel. Has that bite made an impact? Remember, each bite adds up. And then we may ask our stomachs and our bodies, “Do I need more?” We ask our stomachs this because it is only concerned with volume; it has no interest in taste or filling an emotional void. And chances of us not needing more is great, as we attend to how we feel, what we think, and listen to our bodies: this is enough. This is the process of slowing down, pausing and eating mindfully.
So, my questions to you as we approach the International Mindful Eating Day, as noted by The Center of Mindful Eating: Do you check in with yourself regarding why you are eating? Do you intentionally slow down, notice and savor as much as you can about your food, the environment, and how your body, mind and heart respond? Do you bring non-judgement to the act of eating? What is YOUR experience? What do you want to cultivate with eating mindfully in 2017?
[If you are in San Diego, CA and interested in this subject, consider attending a free workshop on Eating Mindfully . If you want even more information, consider the 8-week course on Eating Mindfully, held on every Friday in February and March of 2017, from 9:30-11am PST at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center and the Balanced Mind Meditation Center.]