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Mindful Eating Practices Changed My Life



I was taught to eat everything on my plate. I was told there were starving children around the world and that I was wasting food if I didn’t eat it all. I interpreted that to mean that if I ate all the food I was served (even if it was more than I could comfortably eat), I would be a good person who cared about those children and about the people who bought and made my food.



In my late 20’s, I realized that eating until I was overfull and uncomfortable or in pain was

  1. just as wasteful as throwing food away (and more wasteful than saving it for leftovers),

  2. preventing me from fully enjoying my meal,

  3. not going to solve world hunger, and

  4. not healthy for me or anyone else

I started to look for ways of eating that would not waste food and would improve my health and enjoyment of meals. I began learning about mindful eating, which involves non-judgmental awareness of your food and its effects on your body. Mindful eating practices include

  • recognizing fullness

  • eating more slowly

  • paying attention to the body’s reaction to foods without judgement

  • acknowledging feelings about food and allowing them to pass

These types of mindful practices have been shown to help people

  • make healthier food choices

  • eat smaller portions

  • alleviate digestive issues

Being more mindful about eating has taught me to how to make healthier decisions about my food choices, which also means less waste and more enjoyment of the foods I eat.

I learned to slow down, listen to my body and recognize signs of fullness, and stop eating when I felt satisfied instead of overfull. Enjoying my food without judgement was also key to alleviating anxiety that used to give me frequent abdominal pain.


These are some of the practices I try to follow at meals:

  • Eat when I’m physically hungry

  • Start with small portions; I can get more if I’m still hungry

  • Take my time when eating—chew food thoroughly, breathe between bites

  • Stop eating before

  • I’m no longer tasting the food

  • My clothes start feeling uncomfortable

  • I’m not really enjoying the meal

Eating is much more enjoyable now. Food tastes better when I’m truly hungry and I can focus on enjoying my meal and conversation instead of how much I’m eating.


Mindful eating has improved my physical health as well as my enjoyment of eating.

(See recommended reading on mindful eating at the bottom of the page.)



 


Join me and Leigh Taylor for


A Taste of Mindful Eating


a virtual 1/2 day workshop


Sunday, March 20, 2022

10a-2p (EST), 3p-7p (CET), 2p-6p (BST)




 

Recommended Reading

How to Eat by Thich Nhat Hanh is a book that shares practical tips for eating mindfully as well as considering the many ways that we are connected to the food we eat and with each other.


The Center for Mindful Eating website has a lot of information on eating mindfully. This page is a good place to start:

https://www.thecenterformindfuleating.org/page-1863947


Studies related to mindful eating

Aucoin M, Lalonde-Parsi MJ, Cooley K. Mindfulness-based therapies in the treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders: a meta-analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med . 2014;2014:140724.


Chang YM, El-Zaatari M, Kao JY. Does stress induce bowel dysfunction?. Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol . 2014;8(6):583-585.


Cherpak CE. Mindful Eating: A Review Of How The Stress-Digestion-Mindfulness Triad May Modulate And Improve Gastrointestinal And Digestive Function. Integr Med (Encinitas) . 2019;18(4):48-53.


Fung TT, Long MW, Hung P, Cheung LWY. An Expanded Model for Mindful Eating for Health Promotion and Sustainability: Issues and Challenges for Dietetics Practice. 2016; 116(7): 1081-1086.


Hawton K, Ferriday D, Rogers P, et al. Slow Down: Behavioural and Physiological Effects of Reducing Eating Rate. Nutrients . 2018;11(1):50.


Keesman, M., Aarts, H., Häfner, M., & Papies, E. K. (2020). The decentering component of mindfulness reduces reactions to mental imagery. Motivation Science, 6 (1), 34–42.


O'Reilly GA, Cook L, Spruijt-Metz D, Black DS. Mindfulness-based interventions for obesity-related eating behaviours: a literature review. Obes Rev . 2014;15(6):453-461.


Stanszus LS, Frank P, Geiger SM. Healthy eating and sustainable nutrition through mindfulness? Mixed method results of a controlled intervention study, Appetite, Volume 141, 2019.


Warren JM, Smith N, Ashwell M. A structured literature review on the role of mindfulness, mindful eating and intuitive eating in changing eating behaviors: effectiveness and associated potential mechanisms. Nutrition Research Reviews (2017), 30, 272-283.



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