The A to Z of Food and Eating Mindfully

Posted on 26 May 2017 by Dominic

People often ask me “what exactly is mindful eating”? Many think mindful eating is healthy eating but it’s so much more than that!

Here is the A-Z of Mindful Eating.

A — Awareness and Attention

When eating pay attention to the food in your mouth. Become aware of the flavours, textures and tastes. Through awareness we can address our eating challenges, by noticing our triggers to binge or overeat.

B — Breathe and Body

Before eating, take a breath and check in with your body. How do you feel? Are you hungry? How hungry are you? As you eat keep checking in with your body to see how full you are and aim to stop when your body feels comfortable.

C — Chew

Chew your food!

Horace Fletcher, “the great masticator” argued that food should be chewed 100 times before swallowing for health. Read more about him here. I am not going to suggest you chew 100 times – try it and see – can you chew your food 5-10 times?!?  See the difference!

D — Ditch those Darn Diets!

Diets DO NOT work! Read more about Ditching Diets in my blogs “17 Reasons Not to Diet in 2017” and “Ending the Diet Roller Coaster Once and For All”.

E — Enough

“One who knows enough is enough always has enough” – Tao Te Ching

How much is enough food? When you pay attention to your meal and eat with awareness, often less food is enough.

F — Feelings and Food

Some people eat more when they feel happy and others eat more when they are sad, stressed or anxious. Food then becomes an escape to avoid negative feelings or it becomes a reward. Feelings are feelings and food is food. Food may temporarily distract us from the feelings, but the only way to deal with a feeling is to feel it and allow it to be there. If a feeling is too overwhelming or difficult, we can choose to eat to cope and do it in a mindful way so that it doesn’t lead to emotional overeating.

G — Gratitude

Before eating or as the meal ends, be grateful for the people who were responsible for your food: farmers or chefs, the people who transport your food or the animal that gave its life so you could eat.

H — Hunger

The 2 main reasons we eat is to satisfy our hunger and give us energy and for the pure pleasure of the experience. Pay attention to your levels of hunger and aim to eat when you are gently hungry (if you eat when you are too hungry you may overeat or eat whatever is easy and quick).

I — Investigate & Inquire

When eating investigate… how you are feeling? How full are you? Are you satisfied? Have you had enough? Are you enjoying the food?

J — Judge Not

Do not judge your food. Do not judge your body. Food is neither good nor bad, food is neutral. All bodies are worthy bodies. When we judge (our food or our bodies), it often causes all or nothing thinking which leads to body bashing or binge eating.

K — Kindness

If you binge or overeat, rather than be critical, be kind to yourself. We don’t overeat because we are weak or lack control, very often it’s because we have unmet needs and we eat as a way to cope. Treat your body with kindness and nourish it with foods it likes and wants.

L — Love

Love what you eat. Eat foods you love and that your body loves! If you don’t love it, leave it!

M — Mindful

Be mindful of what is happening in your body, in your thoughts and in your emotions before, during and after eating.

N — Nurturing and Nourishment

When you have the urge to eat ask yourself: Do I need nurturing or nourishment right now?

O Observe and Open up

Observe how your body feels when you eat. Observe your feelings. Open up to what is arising in the present moment.

P — Power of the Pause

Practice the Pause … before eating, half way through your meal and before your last bite.

Q — Question

Are you hungry? If yes, eat mindfully. If not, ask another question.

What would be better than food right now?

What do I really really need now?

R — Respect

Respect your body.

Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and just like in nature there are different size trees – a baobab or a palm tree. So too are bodies different!

S — Slow and Senses – Use Them!

See, smell and savour your food by eating slowly!

T — Take your Time

Give yourself the gift of time when you eat. Try not to rush and eat with your food on a plate, sitting down.

U — Understand

Understand why you binge eat or eat mindlessly. By gaining understanding of why, you will be more able to find a solution.

V — Value

“In this food I see clearly the presence of the entire universe supporting my existence.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh

Value your food, its source and how it comes to your plate.

W — Wisdom vs Willpower

We have reserves of willpower and willpower leads to overeating and binge eating. It’s part of diet thinking. Rather, let’s use the inherent wisdom of the body to guide us as to when to eat, what to eat and how much to eat.

X  Exercise

Move your body in any way that feels good and fun. If it’s fun, it will be more sustainable. Exercise is a gift we give to our bodies to feel good – not a tool to make up for overeating.

Y — Yo-yo dieting

Years of yo-yo dieting leads to shame about ourselves. Diets do not lead to weight loss but rather weight cycling and weight gain.

Z — Zen

The Zen of Eating is a brilliant book by Ronna Kabatznick that gives clear lessons for all who struggle with food.

May all beings have enough to eat

May we eat with mindfulness

May we eat with gratitude

May we eat with joy

May we eat in peace

Be well!
Xen

Today’s gift is a free, simpified, beautiful and colourful copy of the A-Z of Mindful Eating for your fridge!

Are you are tired of yo-yo dieting, emotional eating and obsessing about the size of your body or what you are eating? Do you want to learn how to let go of diets and change your relationship with food, eating and your body? Join our 8 Week Mindful Eating Programme (starts 5 October in Jo'burg) OR book a FREE Mindful Eating Introductory Session with me.

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Certified by The Life Coach School Certified Weight Loss Coach Certified Life Coach Certified and Trained by The Original Intuitive Eating Pro