I love food. I mean, don’t we all? Food is awesome. It fills us, fuels us, and tastes fantastic (I’m looking at you gooey pizza!). Food is also so bonding. If you are like me, when you make plans to see a friend you automatically assume that means getting food, whether it is breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert! What’s a gathering without a little snacky? Food is a major part of all of our lives, which would explain way so many of us have issues with food. Whether we want to eat too much, too little, or all the wrong things, most of us put some sort of thought into what we eat on a daily basis. That is why “comfort food” is so common. Many of us use food as a means of feeling good. Because food is so powerful and can change your mood, it is important to use it as tool. Mindful eating is a technique that helps you to take control over your eating habits. This aids in having a more intentional life. So many of us are slaves to food. Instead of using it as a tool, we consume it without even paying attention to whether or not it is helping us to live better. Practicing mindful eating can help treat many conditions such as eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. How do you connect with food? When trying to decipher if you are eating mindfully, ask yourself these questions:
Do I eat when I am hungry? Emotional? Bored?
Do I always eat when I watch TV?
How does food make me feel?
When life is overwhelming busy, it can be extremely difficult to take time to focus on your health. I totally understand the feeling of wanting to just scarf down food and get full fast so you can move forward and get on with your life and your work. During college, I did this all the time. All I cared about was eating something filling so I could get through class without wanting a snack. This resulted in me eating a ton of greasy and unhealthy foods (like hearty burgers and French fries). Little did I know at the time, I did not have to stock up on carbs in order to be full. These salty, oily foods would fill me up at the time, but would be so addictive that soon after I would be craving more. Because I was craving more unhealthy food, my mind would trick my body into thinking that it actually is hungry. I thought I was staying full longer, but really I was eating more often than I needed to.
Mindful eating is all about being intentional when eating. You want to be sure that you are eating because you are hungry. Remember, your body runs on fuel and food is your fuel. You don’t charge your phone when it is has 90% battery. It is the same with your body, if you are not hungry then it is best to lay off on the food. This is especially important to follow if you are eating junk food. Junk food will not fuel your body, it will only hurt it and make you feel sick.
Another major aspect of mindful eating is avoiding emotional eating. I personally struggle with this. To the body, junk food is like drugs. It uses it as a crutch and gets super addicted to it. Whenever I am upset I feel the urge to reach for fattening food as a way to self soothe. In the moment it may feel good, but in the end it leaves me feeling both upset and disgusting. If you find yourself sad and reaching for food, take a moment to ask yourself why you are reaching for it? Are you actually hungry or are you looking for something to numb the pain. This is the same when it comes to boredom. Have ever eaten our of boredom or out of habit? This may be hard to identify at first, but next time you are feeling upset take time to become aware of what you are doing. Think about what you are gravitating to and consider why. Would you gravitate to the same thing If you weren’t feeling so emotional?
By practicing mindful eating you will be able to:
- eat slowly
- appreciate your food
- avoid using food as an emotional crutch
- distinguishing between true hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating
- eating as a tool for maintaining and improving health and well-being
Remember that mindful eating is not about losing weight or attaining a certain figure. It is about having full control over you eating habits so you can live a more intentional life. By practicing mindful eating you will be more present and aware of the cravings and intentions behind your eating habits. How can you practice mindful eating in your daily life?
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