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What is mindful eating?

July 17, 2015

Changing our attitude and mindset towards our eating habits and practices is just as important as our knowledge about what constitutes a healthy diet and what we actually put in our mouths.

Mindful eating may sound a little too holistic for many of us to take seriously but in practice, it’s pretty sensible. Based on Buddhist meditation practices, the aim of mindful eating is to reconnect us with the experience of eating and our enjoyment of food. A connection we are fast losing sight of. Food is part of our culture and life, and we should enjoy and embrace it. However, we are becoming more susceptible to our emotions when it comes to deciding on what, when or why to eat.

Mindful eating is based on the idea that there is no right or wrong way to eat, but rather, there are differences in the level of consciousness we use when making food choices. Therefore, the goal of mindful eating is to become more conscious of the foods we are putting into our mouths. We need to return to using physical cues such as our bodies’ hunger signals, and step away from our emotional cues such as stress and boredom.

The best way to illustrate this idea is to look at our internal hunger vs. boredom debate. It’s not uncommon for many of us to indulge in a biscuit or two whilst waiting for the hot water for our cup of tea to boil. If we really look into this behaviour we would probably admit that, we just ate because we were bored and the biscuits were available. And it’s not just boredom that can take over our conscious need to eat. Something as simple as a craving can drive us to eat when we’re not hungry at all. Suddenly we’ve found ourselves using food to make ourselves feel better or to relive boredom and not because we require the calories to fuel our day or nutrients to keep us healthy.

Reflect back on your day so far. Have you actually been hungry? Have you paid attention to the food you eat? Can you even recall what you’ve eaten today?