“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” — Zen proverb
Foods are often labeled “good” or “bad” — leading us to feel “virtuous” or “guilty” based on our choices and perpetuating an unhealthy relationship with food.
Instead of focusing on how you will “cleanse” yourself from indulgences, consider a mindful approach to eating.
Have you ever reached the bottom of a bag of chips while watching TV, realizing you don’t even really remember eating them? Do you eat all the food on your plate as quickly as you can? Do you find yourself opening the pantry doors, grabbing the first thing you see without asking yourself if you are even hungry in the first place?
These are all examples of mindless eating. While we all eat this way from time to time, frequent mindless eating can lead to less enjoyment of your food, as well as eating too much.
According to The Center for Mindful Eating, mindful eating involves choosing to eat food that is pleasing to you, nourishing to your body and using all your senses to explore, savor and taste. Mindful eating is also learning to be aware of physical hunger and cues that guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.
Mindful eating is not about deprivation or guilt. It is about truly experiencing your foods, which can help you feel more satisfied after eating less. Mindful eating is not a weight-loss plan, though several studies indicate it can help with weight loss and disordered eating, including binge eating.
Like any new skill, mindful eating takes practice and can feel a bit awkward at first. Here are some tips to get you started.
Rest assured, eating a few treats from time to time will not derail your ongoing efforts. By eating mindfully, you will be more likely to actually enjoy the treats and feel satisfied. Building a healthy relationship with food is a plan that will not fluctuate with the seasons.
For more information, go to eatingmindfully.com.