Mindfulness based eating helps reignite the relationship between mind, body, and food. Eating disorders are complicated processes that skew the normal patterns of what should be simple decisions: what to eat, when to eat, what to eat. Neuroscience has revealed that in the eating disorder brain and body, right down to the taste buds, there is a lack in communication about hunger. The most difficult part of recovery from eating disorders is learning how to eat again. Unlike addictive substances, eating disorders do not involve luxury items. Though a recovering addict learns they felt they had to use to survive, they never needed drugs and alcohol as a means for living. Food, on the other hand, is a concrete necessity for survival.
Can Mindfulness be Applied to Eating?
Rather than following diets, fad diets, eating trends, and food decisions dictated by external sources, mindfulness based eating encourages personal empowerment when it comes to food. Author of The Mindfulness-Based Eating Solution: Proven Strategies to End Overeating, Satisfy Your Hunger, and Savor Your Life, Lynn Ross explains that mindful eating is a discovery process. By being aware of the experience of eating, patients can notice specific emotions that influence eating based on feeling rather than actual hunger. The mindful practice inspires desire in eating on a positive note, such as a desire for creativity, connection, and even spirituality.
Tips for Mindful Eating
- Chew food slowly
- Notice the flavors and textures
- Find gratitude in each bite
- Before eating, focus on the breath. Notice both physical and emotional sensations.
- Do a belly check: are you experiencing hunger in your stomach?
- Do a food check: is the food you are choosing the best choice for your right now? Is it really what you would like to eat?
- Stay aware of your fullness while eating. Midway through the meal do another belly check. Are you feeling satisfied? If yes, there is no need to feel uncomfortably full by continuing to eat.
- While eating, chew thoroughly. Not only does chewing help break down the nutrients in food, it inspires slower eating. Slow eating helps the brain focus on how much food is actually being consumed.