Editors Note: This post is written by contributor Gina Ryan. Gina is a licensed nutritionist and Wellness coach from Hawaii.
Much of the to do list of eating and living healthy can be achieved by simply using awareness. Paying attention to food and life style choices and actions made daily can simplify the sometimes confusing and contradictory health advice that is available on the Internet and elsewhere. Mindfulness puts the locust of control with you and your body.
What is ‘Mindfullness?’
It is with an understanding of what is meant by mindfulness when we speak of it in terms of eating. Mindfulness is clearly non-judgmental paying attention. Sounds simple and clear enough and this is a great place to stop and do it! Pay attention to what you are doing right now, do it with a noticing, a curious awareness and with out labeling it good or bad -simply notice. Yes, and then if the judgmental thoughts come up… notice that! Being aware of what is present for you in each moment physically, emotionally and physically can free you from reactive patterns and unhealthy habits. Being aware of what is actually happening right now gives you freedom of choice and a sense of balance.
Mindful eating is allowing
Allowing yourself to be with the nurturing and powerful opportunities that present themselves through preparing and eating your meals and snacks.Â You begin to access your inner wisdom when you allow the choices to be made from what pleases and nourishes all your senses, by allowing yourself to savor the experience. When the awareness is on what you are doing, in this case eating, you begin to open the doors to your own inner wisdom.
Having awareness of what you like, dislike or feel not one way or the other about is a place to practice the non-judging aspect of mindful eating. As you explore the foods and flavors, textures and tastes you have the opportunity to choose, with awareness, foods that are both pleasing and nourishing.
Mindful eating is a guide
A guide to the physical cues of hunger and satiety giving the power of when to eat and when to stop eating back to the individual, back to you, not a preset time or amount that may work for one person yet not another. For an example: are you hungry just stop and feel the body, be mindful of what the body -your body is feeling. This is connecting your mind with your body and being with what is happening in the moment. The difficulty with “diets” is that many people begin to ignore or fight their own hunger and satiety rhythms. Left unchecked for long periods of time these ignored rhythms and signals leave healthy people open to an array of disordered eating behaviors and in a worse case scenario set up for a full blown eating disorder. Mindful eating is then taught once again as the guide to healthy eating and the body’s wisdom can once again be heard.
People who eat mindfully
- Respect that there are no right or wrong ways to eat but that there are varying degrees of awareness around the experience of food
- Accept the unique experience of their own meal and hunger
- Acknowledge what can happen to the unaware eater and the natural consequence of eating when out of touch with what is
- Direct their choice on a moment to moment basis by checking in with the body
- Have insight about how they can act and choose to achieve specific health goals as they become more tuned into the direct experience of eating and how health actually feels
- See their food, food choices and behaviors as all inter-connected with the earth the people of the earth and the systems used to present the food on the table
Can’t quite see yourself eating in a mindful way?
Try this: Your first drink of the day, be it a tall glass of water or a double latte from the coffee shop on the way to work, drink it with intention, with awareness, mindfully.
Be with the drink and feel it in whatever way it is feeling.
The focus is not on if it is the exact right drink or the right time -all that eventually falls into place when the effort and intention is on what is right in front of you. Drink as if it were the only drink you were ever going to have because it is the only drink you are ever going to drink at that moment!
I’d love to know your experiences of eating mindfully. Did you feel fuller for longer, enjoy the flavours more?