Mindful eating is no longer a secret! If you’ve read about mindful eating in recent media articles, it’s likely that it left you “hungry” for more information on how to adopt this healthy, healing way of eating.
Mindful eating uses the ancient art of mindfulness, or being present, to help cope with modern eating problems. It’s not a diet. There are no menus or food restrictions. It is developing a new mindset around food.
The good news is that mindful eating can help many different types of eating issues. During the past 20 years, studies have found that mindful eating can help you to
- reduce overeating and binge eating
- lose weight and reduce your body mass index (BMI)
- cope with chronic eating problems such as anorexia and bulimia, and reduce anxious thoughts about food and your body
- improve the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes. Thus, it has many benefits!
Intuitively, it makes sense that mindful eating is helpful to overeaters. It slows you down, makes you more aware of portion sizes and helps you get out of negative, automatic food habits like overeating while watching your favorite TV show. So how does it also help people who have other problematic eating habits?
In a nutshell, whether you are overeating or being overly restrictive when you diet, it’s likely that you have lost track of your hunger and fullness. This break between your body and mind needs to be healed. Mindful eating can generally help in three ways:
- Mindful eating plugs you back into your body’s cues so you know when to stop and start eating. This can be such a difficult task if your sense of hunger and fullness has been skewed or warped by large restaurant portions, fad diets or comfort eating.
2) Being mindful can bring about better management of your emotions. Sometimes people restrict or overeat as a way to cope with negative feelings. Eating and not eating can distract you from your worries. When you have healthier ways of coping, such as mindful breathing and letting go of anxiety, you may no longer manage your emotions through your food choices. You can tolerate your emotions, as uncomfortable as they may be, without pushing them away or stuffing them down with food.
3) Mindfulness changes the way you think. Rather than reacting to food-related thoughts that urge you to overeat, overly restrict your diet or emotionally eat, etc., you respond to them. You can hear these thoughts without obeying them.
So if you aren’t binge eating, don’t worry. Mindful eating can be helpful to almost everyone.
How to get started? Download the Mindful Eating Pledge! Doing these five things will help you to start your journey to a healthier relationship to food.