Have you ever grabbed a bag of chips and sat down in front of the T.V. planning to eat a few chips only to discover 30 minutes later that you’ve devoured more than half of the chips? Or maybe you have gotten up from the dinner table intending to put the leftovers away for another meal only to find that you have picked at them so much while you were cleaning up that there wasn’t enough left to bother with? This is mindless eating. Eating without taking the time to think about what you are eating, what the food tastes like, or weather or not you are actually hungry. I’m sure that most of us have eaten mindlessly at one time or another however, if mindless eating becomes a habit it can lead to weight gain and associated health problems.
- Mindfulness is being able to pay full attention and awareness to one’s experience in the moment, without judgment. Mindful Eating brings mindfulness to the experience of eating.
- Eating mindfully helps us develop an awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations related to eating. It reconnects us with our natural internal wisdom about hunger and satiety.
- Mindful eating helps us to focus on the flavor, temperature, texture, and smell of the food we eat. It helps us to connect with our hunger and fullness cues. For some people, mindful eating can help with weight loss or weight maintenance, for others it can help with making more healthy food choices.
A simple mindful eating exercise can be helpful in learning more about the practice. Simply take any food item that you can hold in your hand (I like to use a chip or a candy). Hold that food in your hands. Close your eyes and observe what the food feels like, smooth, hard, etc. Then place the food on your tongue and observe what it feels like to your tongue, observe the flavor, salty, sweet? And then chew the food, observe what happens. And finally, swallow the food. Can you feel it all the way to your stomach?
Practice mindful eating to discover a better relationship with food.
Debra Loder, RDN & Dietary Manager
Wickenburg Community Hospital