I recently finished up a course on Mindful Eating through Mindfulness Based Eating Awareness Program (MB-EAT), which was developed by Dr. Jean Kristeller. I decided to participate in order to deepen my own understanding and knowledge of mindfulness as a means to break free from the diet culture and have a more peaceful relationship with food.
What is mindfulness, you ask? Mindfulness is simply the act of being fully present. Our minds are often thinking about the past or imagining the future rather than being FULLY in the present moment. Mindfulness itself has its roots in Buddhist meditation (Vipassana) and is a key element in many spiritual practices & religions. But whether you are spiritual or not, in a world full of distractions, 24/7 connectivity through our cell phones and the internet, mindfulness is definitely becoming more challenging and equally more more important.
Mindfulness therefore can be practice with anything. It’s a way of being. You can be mindful while driving your car, while doing the dishes, or while with your significant other or kids. Mindfulness also offers a wide range of benefits, including: increased feelings of peace & calm, ability to weather strong emotions, and increased ability to make wiser choices with food. Moreover, mindfulness, allows us to enjoy our meals more and increase our satisfaction. We often find that as we eat more slowly and consciously, we naturally are satisfied with less.
I first discovered mindfulness in college when I was struggling the most with my relationship with food. I read the book on Mindful Eating & was able to keep the practice up for 3 days, stopping binge eating. I was so excited, until I soon found that I was back to my old ways. Just like any change, developing a habit takes time & continued develop.
These days, I often use mindfulness with my own clients who find themselves feeling anxious around food after months or even years of binge eating, emotional eating, and stress eating. To the surprise of one of my recent clients, after practicing several different mindfulness exercises, she soon realized that the process of stopping binge eating had been so gradual that in one particular coaching session, she shared “I just realized, I had my first binge free week in months!”
So how can you begin to practice mindfulness with eating?
For starters, I recommend putting away any distractions when eating. Give yourself time to be present to your meals and give yourself the time and space to taste your food fully. Start by paying attention to your breath to center yourself. By doing so, you calm down your parasympathetic nervous system and prepare your body for the “rest & digest” state (the sympathetic nervous system), in which you digest more easily and absorb more nutrients from you food.
Also, if you’re interested, consider investing in support with developing mindfulness habit. If you’re looking for instruction, feel free to reach out me as I’d love to support you!
As life gets more busy and full of distractions, developing a habit of mindfulness may be the key you need to make peace with food once and for all.