SPECIAL GUEST AUTHOR: Heather George
Mindful eating is a dieting method that leverages the Buddhist concept of mindfulness to control eating habits. While it may sound complicated, it’s actually a very simple technique for controlling your daily food intake. The first step towards applying mindful eating in your life is understanding mindfulness and how it has helped people in the past.
As a form of meditation, mindfulness has been shown to be highly effective at treating an array of mental conditions. The National Institutes of Health has studies on how mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can be used to treat depression. It’s also been shown to be highly effective at mitigating anxiety. And of course, eating disorders are also among the many conditions that can be effectively treated by applying mindfulness.
Healthline describes mindful eating as bringing your full attention to all your experiences when it comes to food. By being aware of your cravings, physical cues, emotions, and sensations related to eating, it becomes much easier to be mindful of what you’re putting into your body and why. Applying it is simple, and it involves the following steps:
- Eat slowly. It’s easier to gauge whether you’re eating too little or too much when you do it slowly.
- Eat without distractions. The less distracted you are, the better you can focus on what you’re putting into your body.
- Eat mindfully. This simply means being aware of the colors, textures, tastes, sounds, and every other sensation brought about by your food.
- Know the difference between real hunger and other eating triggers. This can give you a better idea of what prompts you to either eat more or to avoid eating altogether.
- Be aware of your food’s effects on your body and emotions. How did that last meal make you feel and how did it affect your body? Having this information on hand will make it easier to choose food that’s actually good for you in the long run.
- Eat for wellness. Last but definitely not least, actively eating food that can keep you mentally and physically healthy is the entire point of mindful eating.
Applying these changes to your life will not only keep you healthy, but can also help you confront why you have guilty and/or anxious feelings when it comes to food. By confronting these physical and psychological triggers, you can turn your diet into a positive factor in your life.
This links to research that psychologists have found on the connection between mental health and learning ability. For example, an Oxford University study found that those who consumed more junk food experienced cognitive difficulties due to the fatigue of a sugar crash. The participants of the study made more mistakes compared to those who ate a healthy diet. As more research is discovered, Maryville University reports that there is a growing demand in the psychology industry for those who understand this connection between mental health and learning. This stems largely from recent studies that establish a direct correlation between mental health, learning success, and attaining goals. This also shows why mindful eating is important to a person’s overall mental health.
Of course, mindful eating is not just about us; it’s also about the planet. Michael Reilly has discussed the importance of eating sustainable foods and how our choices impact “our common home”. Eating with health and sustainability in mind not only helps you, but also helps those around you and the planet as a whole. The fact is everyone can benefit from a little mindful eating in their lives.