What Exactly IS Mindful Eating?

28 January 2016 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

Filed Under: Mindful Eating

“Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.” – Sylvia Boorstein

Today is the first-ever Mindful Eating Day. This International day is designed by The Centre of Mindful Eating to celebrate the joy of eating.

Many people ask me what exactly is Mindful Eating? Let me start by explaining what Mindful Eating isn’t….

  • Mindful Eating is NOT a diet, a fast or a detox. Although, if you need to fast, you can approach the fast in a mindful manner.
  • There are no rules and restrictions. There are no forbidden foods and food groups are not eliminated. There is no food judgement in Mindful Eating.
  • Mindful Eating is not eating in the car. It is not eating with distractions nor eating whilst watching TV or working on the computer.  However, part of mindful eating is mindless eating and becoming aware of the when and why we eat mindlessly.

Now let’s look at what Mindful Eating IS

Mindful Eating is listening to your body’s cues of hunger and satisfaction.  It is eating with intention. The intention of caring for your physical, emotional and mental well-being. Mindful Eating is acknowledging our reaction to food we like, dislike or are neutral towards without judgement.

Mindful Eating is eating with awareness. Awareness of how you are feeling before, during and after you eat. Awareness of how the food feels in your body, your emotions and your thoughts.

Eating mindfully is an approach to eating that supports health and well-being as well as eating with the intention of deriving pleasure from the experience.

Making mindful eating choices is not about being a perfect eater.

It is not always possible to eat mindfully. Part of mindful eating is mindless eating and when that happens, letting go of the need to be perfect, offering forgiveness and accepting that some meals are not as we like. It is also the awareness of the effects of mindless eating on our bodies and on our mind and emotions.

Mindful Eating is practicing curiosity, noticing our judgements around food and then letting them go. Food is neutral, neither good nor bad, they just feel differently in our bodies.

In essence, Mindful Eating is more about how we eat, why we eat and less about what we eat.

Here are some of the many benefits to eating mindfully:

  1. You learn to mostly eat when you are hungry and stop when you have had enough.
  2. You learn to eat with awareness and slow down, which helps to savour your food which often leads to eating less.
  3. You enjoy freedom to choose all types of foods.
  4. You become aware of how different foods affect your mood and energy throughout the day.
  5. You develop awareness of your triggers to overeat or eat mindlessly.
  6. By practicing mindful eating tools it can lead to enjoying food more.

Here is a practical exercise you can try at home:

  • Choose one meal per day or per week to practice eating mindfully.
  • Ask yourself what would feel like a satisfying meal and prepare it.
  • Turn off all screens, phones. Put away magazines and books.
  • Set the table as best you can.
  • Tune in to your body and assess your hunger.
  • Select your portion size according to your hunger
  • Before eating, breathe and for the first 3 bites pay attention to the texture, the aroma, the flavour of your food. Pause in between bites.
  • Notice what is happening in your body, in your mind and in your emotions as you eat.
  • Try putting down your knife and fork as you chew your food, only pick up your utensils once you have swallowed.
  • Check your hunger levels as you are eating – divide your plate into 4 and at each fourth check in to see how satisfied you feel.
  • When you have had enough and feel physically satisfied, take a breath and put your knife and fork down.
  • Move into your next activity feeling nourished with mindful awareness.

Tired of overeating and feeling out of control around food? Dieting and restriction hasn’t worked for you? Do you want to find peace and freedom around food? Book a free Online Intro Session with me or join my “Food Freedom” 8 Week Programme (available in Jo’burg & Pretoria).

You can also sign up for my free Mindful Eating “Slightly Different” Advent Calendar to enjoy over the festive season.

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