Mindful Eating is the process, often defined as paying close attention to the food you eat, what purpose it serves, moment by moment, without being judgmental. Mindful eating is an approach to food that focuses deeply on an individual’s sensual awareness of the nature of the food, and their own experience of the food. It has nothing to do with diets, calories, carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
“Mindful eating is an art of being present in the moment while you eat”
It is also described as a mindful self-control habit that helps you gain control over your mindless eating habits. The primary objective of Mindful eating is to reduce binge eating habits, and not promote weight loss by using fad diets.
This article explains what mindful eating is, how it works in real life, what the mindful eating cycle is, and we will also discuss a six-step mindful eating ritual to help you mindfully eat and feel better.
(Also Read: The Seven Pillars of Mindfulness)
I. Mindful Eating Cycle:
Why do I eat the kind of food I eat?
When do I want to eat what I usually eat?
What do I usually eat, and why?
How do I eat it? It is while watching something on TV, or is it with the family?
5. How Much?
How much do I usually eat? Do I mindlessly stuff my stomach, or am I being more mindful while eating the quantity?
Where do I usually eat my food? Do I have a proper place where I can mindfully eat without any screen to distract my attention?
II. What are the Key Differences Between Physical and Emotional Hunger?
1. Physical Hunger:
- Biological response to low energy
- Appears gradually after several hours without eating any food
- No need to eat immediately without a second thought
- Disappears with any food that has enough calories
- No negative thoughts and feelings after a meal
2. Emotional Hunger:
- Response to a disturbing feeling
- Usually appears suddenly, not depending on when you ate or what you ate
- Need to eat mindlessly right at this instant
- It doesn’t usually disappear with food that has enough calories to make you full
- Results in negative, guilty feelings and shame after eating
III. Six-Step Mindful Eating Ritual
- Prepare a proper place where you can eat daily. (Never underestimate the power of ambiance)
- Minimize screen time and distractions, which means watching less TV and Netflix while eating.
- KEY POINT: Tangibly pause before you mindfully take your first bite and genuinely show gratitude for your food and god.
- Relax and start by taking a few deep breaths. Focus on the rhythms of your breaths and then accordingly, inhale and exhale for about 3-5 very deep breaths.
- Politely name and go through every single food item you see on your plate or your table, then name them silently in your mind. Pay attention to all the key ingredients in your dishes and know where they came from. Note the flavors you are about to taste in your food.
- Eat mindfully and slowly, mindfully chewing every bite, noticing the key ingredients and different flavors you highlighted as mentioned in the fifth step, smelling, tasting, and while being present in the moment without any judgment, just pure gratitude and happiness.
(Related: Mindful Eating Versus Intuitive Eating)