When was the last time you really thought about what you ate? Eating thoughtlessly is common among those who struggle with emotional eating. Rather than thinking about and enjoying the food we eat, it becomes very easy to simply eat in response to emotions. We lose track of what or how much we consume, leading to weight gain and lowered self-esteem. I encourage my clients to work towards eating mindfully, focusing on the sensations of the food they most enjoy and listening to their bodies to know when it is time to eat.
Eating mindfully may not come naturally at first, especially if you have a history of compulsive overeating or emotional eating. Fortunately, you can grow into this mindset by starting small. Many people who tend to eat without thinking are also out of touch with their body’s signals for hunger. Take time to listen to what your body is telling you. Do you feel hunger as a sensation in your stomach, or perhaps as a mild headache? Eating in response to these physical symptoms ensures you’re not eating to fulfill a craving that food can never satisfy.
The joy of mindful eating comes from taking time to focus in on the sensations of the food you most enjoy. When eating in response to a craving it is easy to focus in on the emotion pushing us to eat rather than the food itself. Mindful eating allows you to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasure that a good meal can bring. To begin, create a pleasant area to eat in. Choose a place to use for eating (such as your kitchen table) and set it in a way that is pleasing to the eye. Portion food by using a plate or bowl instead of eating from the package. Next, take time to appreciate the way your food appeals to your senses. Taste is just the beginning: enjoy the way your food smells and looks before you begin eating. As you begin to eat, put your fork down between bites and take a moment to savor the way your meal tastes. Don’t be afraid to start eating your favorite item first and don’t force yourself to eat something you aren’t enjoying. Finally, pay attention to your body as you eat as well as when you finish. If you feel uncomfortably full after your meal there is no reason to feel badly. Instead, think about what you can change next time you eat to avoid this discomfort.
Eating mindfully can be a positive way to counteract binge eating. Be mindful of both what you consume and the way it makes your body feel to truly enjoy eating. When you savor your food, you will naturally be more satisfied. So, whatever you are eating,