Are You a Mindful Eater?

March 30, 2012 at 8:59 am Leave a comment

I recently asked on Twitter “How mindful are you when eating?” Most people tweeted that they’re very mindful, noting how observant they must be to avoid gluten exposure. Yes, that is a necessary part of the gluten-free lifestyle, but reading labels and being “mindful” can be two very different things.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but mindfulness is all about silencing those little buzzers going off in your head. It’s about being present, focusing on what’s in front of you, and ignoring the constant stream of thoughts and sounds that typically distract us throughout the day.

When it comes to eating, that means making healthy choices and savoring each bite rather than wolfing down a bag of chips in front of the TV. It may sound silly, but acknowledging your food can save you from saying “Why did I eat that?” more often than not.

woman eating salad

How often do you stop to enjoy your food?

Ali Weinberg, a licensed psychotherapist and Wellcoach at Engin Inspired Coaching, offered this overview to help anymore be more mindful:

“There are four components to well-being that can help contribute to increasing mindfulness and thus decreasing worry and rumination in our lives:

  1. Mindful exercise: This does not mean one needs train for a marathon.  Going for a 30-minute walk with a pet or loved one, and/or incorporating some sort of enjoyable physical movement into the day can have profound effects on the mood.
  2. Eating Mindfully: This means paying attention and being thankful for and aware of the food we are eating.  In our rushed schedules, much of the time we are holding the steering wheel with one hand while we inhale a burger, or we are reading and watching television as the fork mechanically goes from plate to mouth. Before we know it, the food is gone and our stomachs are overstuffed and unsatisfied.  By cultivating more of an awareness and appreciation for our food, we can experience the nutrients for what they are, rather than stuffing ourselves to mask and soothe our anxieties in the moment. This may mean stepping back periodically throughout a meal and checking in with fullness levels on a scale of one to ten.  Oftentimes my clients will realize that they habitually finish everything on their plates only when they happen to be eating and multitasking. When they mindfully focus on how their body feels, they realize that they are satiated earlier on in their meals, and feel energized rather than stuffed after eating.
  3. Sleeping mindfully:  Sleep is what heals us.  As anxious people, we are used to struggling with insomnia at times, and it can have many negative effects on our daily functioning when we are lacking sleep.  It is important to develop good sleep habits to help our bodies to repair and heal from daily life stressors.  Good sleep can also help to improve one’s mood and productivity in work and life.
  4. Overall development of Mindfulness: John Cabot-Zinn defines mindfulness as ‘Paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.’”

If you’re ready to be more mindful, sign up for NFCA’s upcoming webinar: Maintaining a Healthy Weight While Eating Gluten-Free: The Importance of Physical Activity & Mindful Eating on April 18. As always, it’s free!

– Cheryl

Entry filed under: Cheryl. Tags: , , , , .

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