Mindful vs Mindless eating habbits
Have you ever looked down at a bag of chips you were eating and wondered where the chips went? You don’t remember eating that many chips, yet they are all gone. You don’t even remember if the chips tasted good or not. This is called mindless eating or distracted eating.
The classic form of mindless eating is eating while multi-tasking. We justify this by saying we are so busy and have so much to do! So we eat at our desks, snack in front of our computer, we eat in our cars and on the run, standing up.
It is very enjoyable to combine pleasures: eating in front of the TV and watching our favourite series, but our attention is divided so we don’t get maximum pleasure from our food and so we need more and more! If we eat and multi-task, the chances are we will overeat because our attention is not on our food.
Mindless eating happens when we are bored, stressed, anxious or sad – we want to distract ourselves from the discomfort of the unpleasant emotion, so we eat!
Sometimes we mindlessly eat because the food is there in front of us and eating has nothing to do with our physical hunger or we continue to eat regardless of fullness, because there is still food on our plate.
Research indicates that we overlook as many as 200 food decisions each day. These overlooked food decisions are made without you even being aware that you are making them. Your decision of what to eat, whether to eat, and how much to eat is based on what you usually do, external cues such as seeing or smelling food, or simply eating what is there.
Mindful Eating on the other hand, is getting out of auto-pilot and becoming aware of our moment to moment experiences:
We eat mindfully when we pay attention to our hunger and mostly eat out of hunger.
Becoming aware and noticing how we feel emotionally and physically before and as we eat. Very often if we notice we are tired, we realise that it’s rest we need and not food.
Mindful eating is eating slowly (as much as possible, even if it’s just the first few bites of a meal) and becoming aware of the taste, texture, aroma and flavours of the food – essentially being in the moment and taking the meal bite by bite.
A mindful eater will determine his/her hunger level and eat accordingly.
There is no guilt or judgment when we eat mindfully, we simply notice and decide what and how much to eat consciously.
When we overeat, we learn from the experience and let it go without beating ourselves up.
According to The Center for Mindful Eating, mindful eating includes several principles.
Allow yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.
- Choose to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor, and taste.
- Acknowledge responses to food likes and dislikes without judgment.
- Learn to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.
The bottom line is to enjoy your food, pay attention to the experience, and avoid eating just to eat or out of habit. Slow down. Take at least 20 minutes for the meal. Plan your day so you have time to eat. One suggestion has been to set a kitchen timer for 20 minutes and take that time to eat your meal.