Mindful eating is a mindfulness meditation practice that has the ability to transform your relationship with food and eating. This simple (though not always easy) practice has done nothing less than revolutionize nutrition therapy, when combined with evidence-based steps that shift lifestyle toward health.
So, What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a meditation practice wherein you:
- Adopt a meditative mindset. We humans have the capacity to change our consciousness from our everyday distracted state to a calm, clear relaxed and open one. With this change, you focus attention inward and relax.
- Pay attention to what is happening moment by moment. Mindfulness is meditation while…(whatever you are doing). So, you get curious about whatever you are doing – be it walking or eating. Slowing the process down so that you can get fascinated enough that you lose yourself – you lose track of time – is mindful meditative absorption.
- There is a particular attitude of mindfulness called non-judgmental awareness. As you practice, you become aware of judgements like comparisons (this food is heathy therefore good, that food is less healthy, therefore not so good, for example). In mindfulness, you aim for a direct, sensory relationship with what you are eating.
Now, Apply it to Eating
In eating meditation, you slow down, breathe and relax, and enjoy your food. Just how might that unfold?
Here’s are a few steps to get you going:
- Make an intention to meditate while eating. Clear distractions (like TV, phones, internet).
- Eat with all five senses. Enjoy the beauty of your plate and each food item on it. Take in the aroma.
- Notice what thoughts and emotions come up for you, as you practice. Breathe, relax and resist the temptation to ‘push away’ thoughts. Just note – there’s a thought. Feel it, honor it, release it.
- Chew and savor. Can you chew each bite 10 times? 30?
Here is my Kripalu video on Mindful Eating.
Do you need to eat like this evermore? Nope. Think of it as a practice – something you do regularly, and build like you might build a muscle.
When I teach mindful eating at Kripalu, I encourage people to begin where they are, so if you don’t currently do this practice, and you take a few mindful bites each day, terrific.
If you find that you are not practicing, chunk it down until it is ridiculously easy. So, can you take one mindful bite each day? How about one mindful bite on your day off? One mindful breath? If you don’t have the 10 seconds it takes to take one mindful breath, well…you are indeed a busy person, and there’s hope for you yet! Try try again.
What Does the Science Say?
When I wrote my first book, Every Bite Is Divine, there really wasn’t much research explaining the mechanisms by which mindfulness eating meditation or yoga, does what they do. We just knew it worked. Times have changed! Now, places like Harvard are summarizing the science of why mindful eating can be helpful for weight management. Cecilia Clementi of The Center for Mindful Eating compiled a comprehensive list of references on mindful eating last year. Impressive!
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What Has Mindful Eating Done for You?
We want to know! What keep you practicing? Share your tips and reports!