When many people think of mindfulness, they may think of meditation, yoga, or some other kind of internal journey. While this can be one way to practice mindfulness, there are also some very practical ways to incorporate mindfulness into the way that you eat.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing awareness to the present moment without judgment. Likewise, mindful eating is a type of mindfulness that involves bringing intentional awareness to the physical, mental, and emotional sensations involved with eating.
Some aspects of mindful eating may include:
- Slowing down the pace of meals
- Eating without distraction, including sitting down and turning off phones
- Create a pleasant mealtime environment
- Notice the texture of the food in your mouth
- Savor the flavor of each bite of food
- Allowing yourself to experience the sensation of fullness
- Acknowledge any thoughts or emotions about your eating without judgment1
Also, consider how your way of eating in the present moment aligns with your values. For example, you may notice that you don’t care for the flavor of the food you packed for lunch. It’s not bad, but just not what you’re in the mood for. If it’s the only food you have available at that moment, eating the food anyway may align with your goals for recovery.
On the other hand, if your friend invites you out to lunch at one of your favorite restaurants, you may choose to abandon your initial lunch plan to eat with them. This is honoring what your body is craving at the moment and may align with your values of connection with others and recovery.
It’s also important to note that there is no “right” way to do mindful eating. Many people with eating disorders like structure and food rules. Mindful eating can be helpful for recovery because it helps you to accept eating flexibility depending on what your body wants and needs.
Mindful Eating vs. Intuitive Eating
Intuitive eating is learning how to care for yourself when it comes to food. It involves replacing harmful beliefs about food with more neutrality. For example, no foods are bad foods, just like no bodies are bad bodies. Food is just food, and bodies are just bodies.
Intuitive eating is also learning how to recognize hunger and fullness signals, noticing when food tastes good, recognizing and honoring cravings, and ultimately building body trust. Mindful eating can be an aspect of intuitive eating. Mindfulness helps you to become a neutral observer of what your body needs.
Learning mindfulness with food is an important tool for recovery. Instead of making food decisions based on what your eating disorder says that you “should” eat, mindfulness helps you to identify what you actually need.
What is Nutritional Therapy?
Nutritional therapy is working with a registered dietitian to find a pattern of eating that works for you. They will take into consideration your medical history, your risk for nutrient deficiencies, and any challenges with eating, such as digestion issues and food allergies.
Mindful eating can sometimes be difficult for people suffering from eating disorders. While learning to be attuned to the sensations involved with eating is important to recovery, you do not have to do it alone.
Our team of eating disorder specialists can walk you through the process of mindful eating during recovery. Give us a call at 419-885-8800 or complete our contact form to get started.