Mindlessness is when our minds are absent from the place where we are physically present.
Today, we witness that mindless behavior most obviously in our eating habits. Looking around, almost everyone, from a child to an old person, is staring at their phone or television screen while eating.
Moreover, this constant switching back and forth between two things is exhausting for the brain.
Mindful eating is eating with mindfulness. Mindfulness teaches us to keep our wandering minds tied to the task at hand.
When we intently focus our attention on a single task, as in mindful eating, we benefit by also learning how to deal with life in a more organized way.
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating means eating with attention and intention.
The attention is towards the experience of eating with full presence, while the intention is towards savoring the experience with all the senses.
Benefits of Mindful Eating
Why should you learn to eat mindfully? Here are the benefits:
Rewards of Slow Eating
By eating mindfully, you tie your attention to your food and slow down your eating process, making it an intentional act rather than a hurried one.
And when we eat slowly, it lets our digestive system process the food better, so that we do not feel uncomfortably full in our stomachs after eating.
Reduce Stress And Risk of Other Illnesses
With mindful eating, you also become more aware of the triggers that make you want to eat, even though you may not be hungry.
Research has found mindful eating can improve depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.
Mindful eating is also found effective in controlling metabolic diseases, like type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Helps Stop Binge Eating
Many of us would admit to grabbing some food while watching movies or when upset.
Mindful eating teaches us the skills of letting go of established unhelpful patterns of eating because of stress or habit. Mindful eating can help us get better control of binge eating.
Separate Comfort Foods From Required Foods
Eating more of any food reduces its tastefulness, as we know. No matter how much we like hummus and falafel, we cannot have it three times a day, seven days a week.
Mindful eating helps us learn to differentiate between the hunger for food and the desire for food. It makes us enjoy our meals, and we tend not to overeat.
It helps us appreciate the simple premise of eating, that is, to satisfy our hunger.
Mindful eating curtails our comfort eating – that is, eating calorie-dense, processed foods when we feel stressed.
Feel Good About Our Bodies (Body Positivity)
Eating with stress on our mind and body, as happens in multitasking, can make us feel gloomy and bloated afterward.
With the discipline of mindfulness in our eating, we bring positive changes in the areas of life outside our eating.
Eating with mindful behavior can make us feel good about our bodies and ourselves later on.
Weight Loss And Weight management
Mindful eating can help in weight management.
Though it is not dieting of any kind, restricting or allowing certain foods, or counting the calories or amount of food, mindful eating helps people get into better shape and size.
And it happens without causing increased stress because its goal is not about losing or gaining weight, or getting into a certain shape or size.
- While mindfulness eating is not specifically anything like a weight loss program, still many people experience a loss in their weight in about 8 to 10 weeks.
- It could be explained by the fact that mindful eaters change their relationship with food and behave in a positively different way while eating.
- For example, mindful eaters tend to eat less because they are early to become aware of the fullness of their stomachs and stop eating at that point. Therefore, they rarely overeat.
- Even when a mindful eater sees enticing food, and takes to eating, they eat only until it satisfies their hunger, not a morsel more.
- Researchers found in a 2015 study, most of the people who approached their food with mindfulness lost a significant amount of weight, though they could not establish a direct relationship between the two.
How to eat mindfully?
To eat mindfully, we have to savor our food with all our senses, patiently accept what is on our plates, and explore the food with curiosity and non-judgment.
Mindful eating involves the following manners:
- to eat slowly and pay full attention to the eating process,
- to remain aware of the physical hunger and to eat only until nearly full,
- to recognize the non-hunger triggers and to stop the self from eating when stressed,
- to engage the senses to notice colors, aromas, sounds, textures, flavors of the food,
- to eat mainly to build and maintain physical health and mental well-being,
- to appreciate and be grateful to all who helped bring food to your table.
Quotes on Mindful Eating
Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as:
…paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally. — Full Catastrophe Living.
To further inspire you into mindful eating, take a look at some wonderful quotes on conscious eating:
Mindful eating replaces self-criticism with self-nurturing. It replaces shame with respect for your own inner wisdom. — Jan Chozen Bays
How we do food is how we do life. Every meal is a metaphor for how you show up in the world. Are you present? Are you complaining? Are you multitasking? Add love, celebration, time, communion, and gratitude to every meal, and make every meal the best meal ever. — Marc David & Emily Rosen
Refrain from discussing subjects that can destroy your awareness of the people around you and the food. If someone is thinking about something apart from the good food on the table, such as his difficulties in the office or with friends, it means he is losing the present moment and the food. You can help by returning his attention to the meal. ― Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Eat
Emotional eating is an attempt to deal with a tough problem, feeling, or situation we don’t otherwise know how to deal with, and often don’t even know that we have without some kind of symptom to remind us. When we strip away the judgment of our emotional eating and stop calling it a disease, a defect, a problem in and of itself; we can finally see it for what it is: An alert that something in our life needs our attention. Something completely unrelated to food or our weight. Be grateful for the reminder. — Isabel Foxen Duke
At the heart of every eating disorder, whether it is compulsive eating, bulimia, or anorexia, there is a cry from the deepest part of our souls that must be heard. It is a cry to awaken, to embrace our whole selves. It is a cry to deepen our understanding of who we really are. It is a longing to know ourselves in mind, body, and spirit. — Normandi & Roark
When practiced to its fullest, mindful eating turns a simple meal into a spiritual experience, giving us a deep appreciation of all that went into the meal’s creation as well a deep understanding of the relationship between the food on our table, our own health, and our planet’s health. — Thich Nhat Hanh, Savor
Practice mindful eating. Eating food is a somatic experience. It gives rise to all kinds of sensory experiences and sensations. When we are not fully present when we eat and when we eat too fast, we tune out this sensory experience and as a result, we do not experience our food fully. We take it for granted. We don’t extract the full richness out of it. We can’t tell how our bodies respond to certain foods. — Teal Swan
The mindful eating movement has helped people shift their entire eating process from mindless chewing (like having a “TV dinner”) to eating with love and attention to the food.
As you invite mindfulness into your day in many ways, you’ll find its positive effects spreading to various parts of your life.
You begin to notice how you pause now before reaching for food and question yourself if you’re physically hungry or emotionally unsettled.
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes on mental wellbeing, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).
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