What does it mean?
A basic definition: being attentive and aware of our eating. Diving deeper, mindful eating refers to how we feel currently (hunger/fullness), what our environment is telling us (habit cues, who we are with, etc.), and how we will feel in the future (physically and mentally), all as it relates to the food we eat.
Why Does It Matter?
Mindful eating matters for a couple reasons, both of which are subjective and depend on the person and their relationship with food and their bodies. First, when we are more mindful of our eating, we tend to eat healthier. Keeping in mind what mindful eating means, this would make sense because we would tend to eat more of the foods that make us feel better overall, which usually ends up being healthier foods. This lends itself to the second reason: when we eat more mindfully, we feel better. More specifically, we may gain more satisfaction mentally and emotionally from food because we are more engaged with it. We may be more present in the moments around food: how it tastes, smells, and looks, along with the social aspects of it. As well, because we may tend to eat healthier foods at more appropriate portions (because we would also be listening to our bodies), we may be more content physically which may be evident as an enhanced sense of overall well-being.
How Can We Be More Mindful While Eating?
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you determine how mindful you are when you are eating and how you can improve your own mindfulness:
- Can I recognize when I am hungry and when I am full?
- If yes, do I respect these feelings?
- Am I aware of how my external environment impacts my food choices?
- Am I aware of how different foods will impact how I feel physically and mentally? How about different amounts of food?
- Am I attentive to the social and emotional aspects surrounding food?
This by no means is a complete list of possible questions or a “manual to become a more mindful eater”. These questions are meant to get you started on the path of being more mindful when you’re eating. It is amazing the impact that food has on humans, and mindfulness can help you recognize that!
By Brandon Gruber, Dietitian