Mindful Eating

by Megan Tessier

Have you ever indulged in an entire pizza and pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream while watching Netflix? If you have, you are definitely not alone! Many people eat when they are stressed, sad, or bored. Although it’s okay to treat yourself once in a while, if we consistently eat due to these emotions it can lead to weight gain, decreased psychological health, and an unhealthy relationship with food.

Mindful (or Intuitive Eating) has been shown to correlate with weight maintenance, lower BMI, good psychological health, and improve overall dietary consumption and eating behaviors.1


This National Nutrition Month, “Go Further with Food” and be mindful – eat and drink the amount that’s right for you. Be mindful, not mind full!

 

Here are “10 Principles of Intuitive Eating” to get you started 2:

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality. There are so many diets out there that restrict specific foods and/or food groups; however many people who have tried and followed these diets have failed. No food should be ‘off limits’ – putting restrictions on ourselves leads to heavy feelings of guilt and dissatisfaction.
  2. Honor Your Hunger. Listen to your hunger cues. Ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry?” “What do I really want?” “Am I eating for another reason other than being hungry?” Assess hunger every time you eat.
  3. Make Peace with Food. There are no “good” or “bad” foods. Eat without making promises to yourself. An unconditional permission to eat leads to an intuitive eater mindset.
  4. Challenge the Food Police. We are our biggest critics when it comes to the food we eat. We constantly struggle with feelings of guilt, hopelessness, and negatively when we eat something that may seem unhealthy. Intuitive eaters learn to eat without these negative emotions by disregarding these negative thoughts.
  5. Respect your Fullness. Recognize satiety and be aware of how you’re feeling before and after a meal. Constantly check in with yourself to assess your current fullness level.
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor. Overeating usually occurs when we can’t satisfy our craving of foods. Ask yourself what you really want in that moment. When you give yourself this experience, you’ll realize that you do not need to as much food to feel content and satisfied.
  7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food. It’s common for us to eat out of boredom, stress, and other negative emotions. However, there are many other activities we can do to distract us from trying to solve our problems with food. Find a hobby that you enjoy and can do when you feel like you might eat due to another reason other than hunger.
  8. Respect Your Body. In order to feel good about ourselves, we need to learn to respect the body we’re in. When we are kind to ourselves, we can enjoy all the food we eat and create a healthier lifestyle for ourselves overall.
  9. Exercise and Feel the Difference. Physical activity has been shown to reduce stress, improve stamina, improve flexibility, and improve overall health. Find what makes you get up and moving!
  10. Honor Your Health. Remember; you don’t have to be a perfect eater to be healthy! It’s okay to indulge once in a while. Creating a healthy relationship with food is what really matters. Finding true balance within our diets will allow us to eat without judgment.

 

References:

  1. Van Dyke N, Drinkwater EJ. Relationships Between Intuitive Eating and Health Indicators: Literature Review. Public Health Nutrition.(8):1757-66. doi: 10.1017/S1368980013002139
  2. 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating. The original Intuitive Eating Pros. http://www.intuitiveeating.org/10-principles-of-intuitive-eating/. Accessed November 12th, 2017.
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