Shifting from Mindless Eating to Mindful Awareness

Excerpt from an article by Lynn Rossy, THE PRACTICE OF MINDFUL EATING: IT’S MORE THAN JUST ABOUT FOOD!

Mindless eating is what the majority of us do everyday —a state familiar to anybody who eats, says Lynn Rossy, author of The Mindfulness-Based Eating Solution. Some examples of mindless eating are when watching TV, eating while working on the computer, eating while reading, eating while talking on the phone, and eating while driving the car. Although we all eat like this from time to time, the results are that we lose some of the experiences of taste, smell, hunger, and fullness.

“We often eat without even noticing, and it is a lost opportunity for pleasure and satisfaction.”

Eating becomes a quick and easy choice for comfort that is often short-lived and with consequences that are less than pleasant. Generally, emotional eating is not done mindfully but as an attempt to avoid being present. 

Emotional eating is often mindless as well. People can eat to numb or avoid the difficulty of emotions like sadness, loneliness, anger, boredom, and restlessness.

Being present is having awareness of what you’re eating in the present moment.

Comforting with food is seen as a negative thing when seen through the lens or context of diet culture.

When comfort eating is done with intention, it could be a mindful experience. However, when it is done with guilt, anxiety, and rebellion also present at the same time, it could turn into a compulsive eating experience, as it is hard to stay present and connected when one is in a state of stress or fight/flight/freeze. This type of compulsive eating might end up being a mindless eating experience.

Mindless habits are developed over a lifetime and mindless eating often leads to physical or emotional distress or both. When stressed, we repeat our patterns over and over again. Mindless begets mindless. 

Mindful Eating—Practice or Technique?

Mindfulness is the practice of being present without judgment, and with curiosity and openness, is a necessary component of mindful eating.

Practicing mindfulness when eating may be something that you are doing now (to one degree or another) but the intentionality to practice mindfulness and mindful eating enhances the skill to pay attention in this way. An intention to eat mindfully will help you to fully reap the benefits. 

To call mindful eating a “technique” is missing the way mindfulness can be brought to everything that you experience and everything that you do. For instance:

  • A mindful eater will be aware of their body sensations of hunger, fullness, and taste.
  • They are aware of the mood they are in when they sit down to eat
  • The motivation they had to reach for food
  • The thoughts that are going through their head that affect the experience of their body and eating, as well as the environment around them.

The skill of purposely bringing one’s attention to the present moment and all that it holds without judgment is developed through training. 

Mindful Eating is Universal

Mindful eating is the practice of paying attention to the physical, emotional, and cognitive states of being before, during, and after you eat. It is a holistic experience that includes your relationship to the tastes and smells of food, the physical aspects of hunger and fullness, the effect of food in your body, your thoughts, and emotions, as well as your conditioned behaviors.

Developing a formal, personal mindfulness practice is the best thing someone who wants to eat mindfully can do.

I hope you enjoyed the article! For more information about Lynn Rossy, browse her website. Her meditations are good too!

Personally, mindful eating helps me take care of my body, with greater awareness about how I eat and enhances my connection to the quality of foods and the environment.

I recommend the book and the course that Lynn offers called Eating for Life

My best in Health,

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