For centuries, mindfulness has been used by Hindus, Buddhists, and other enlightened groups to help lower stress, increase wellbeing, and improve decision making. It’s no surprise, therefore, that those looking to make smart dietary choices bring a similar mindful attitude to their food.
Eating can be an enjoyable experience, but too often it’s done out of boredom, depression, or excitement. This often leads to weight gain, lethargy, and poor overall health.
A mindful approach to eating is one of the surest ways to control what you put in your mouth, especially if you make the eating mistakes mentioned above. Read on to discover what mindful eating is and how it can help you.
What Exactly is Mindful Eating?
In a world where junk food now rules, it’s all too easy to eat for the wrong reasons. Quick food and food laden with salt and sugar may be convenient and may taste good, but it certainly isn’t good for you.
A mindful eater is one who is aware of these everyday-eating predicaments, and tries to do their best to avoid them. Instead of focusing on the benefits of fast food, they instead choose to focus on the positives of good food.
Mindful eating is all about eating with the intention of caring for yourself. While you make every attempt to make food taste as good as possible, you do this while remembering you’re eating for fuel, not solely for pleasure. If you have certain emotions that govern your eating habits – emotions like stress or sadness, for example – the goal is to express these needs in healthy ways, rather than eat them into submission.
Why Mindful Eating is Beneficial
Most of us live our lives on autopilot. We go through our day never really thinking about what we’re doing or why we’re doing it. This means we think, feel and do a lot of unnecessary things.
Often, simply paying attention to what we’re doing is enough to trigger a realization in us. When we’re aware of our unhealthy habits, we’re more likely to change them. A mindful eater is one who becomes aware of patterns. Once you’re aware of a pattern, you have the opportunity to alter them if need be.
By becoming mindful of eating habits, we also become more mindful of the emotions that drive our eating. If we notice regular occurrences of negative emotion, we can work on that emotion once we know it’s there.
How You Can Start Eating Mindfully
The first step to eating mindfully is to realize that your body requires certain nourishment in order to function properly. It’s vulnerable to the effects of life and poor eating, and so needs to be respected.
Once you’re aware of that and have internalized this new attitude, you can start asking yourself certain questions every time you eat. For example, ask yourself why you’re eating something. Ask yourself if what you’re eating at this moment is the best food option available to you. And finally, ask yourself if eating this particular item of food helps you serve your ultimate goal, which is to love yourself and nourish your body. 
- May, M (2015) ‘ Mindful eating is eating with intention and attention’ Am I hungry? Website. Viewed on 28thOctober 2015 at http://amihungry.com/what-is-mindful-eating/
- Harvard Health Publications (2011) Harvard Medical School ‘Mindful Eating’. Viewed online on 28th October 2015 at http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/mindful-eating