The Mindful Eating Toolbox

eating-food-with-mindfulnessLet’s face it, many pictures that we’ve seen associated with the mindful eating “movement” depict some version of a thin woman eating a big bowl of salad, or an overweight woman triumphantly choosing an apple over a cheeseburger. As if there were true “good” versus “bad” foods (or bodies), and one could earn a mindful eating “badge of honor” for overcoming all of those pesky cravings for fried foods and instead proclaiming a newfound love of kale.

As a mindful eating educator for over 10 years, I’m less interested in what you choose to put in your body, than how you choose to eat. Are your choices based upon physical hunger, or emotions such as sadness or boredom? Do you eat out of habit or routine? Do you eat at a reasonable speed, or do you barely taste your food? Do you eat standing up? In the car? In front of a screen?

Even then, mindful eating isn’t about learning new “rules” for how to eat (i.e. I must chew each bite a 100 times, or I can never eat in front of the television). We really like rules, don’t we? Instead, I’m fond of guidelines: practices that have flexibility built into them, which take into account the body’s inner wisdom and expertise (that I like to help my clients listen to, increasingly).

Here’s what I’ll teach you from the “Mindful Eating Toolbox:”

  1. Learn to recognize hunger cues – and how to distinguish them from other experiences, such as emotions or cravings.
  2. Learn to recognize satiety or fullness cues – and identify when you might push past these cues for a variety of reasons.
  3. Learn how to make food choices based upon on physical cues, not rules or should’s.
  4. Increase your eating enjoyment, by learning how to show up and savor food.
  5. Learn to let go of unhelpful thoughts and feelings (such as guilt or shame) that plague your relationship with food.

I love the picture that I’ve included with this post because it captures the heart of mindful eating practices. If taught well and practiced regularly, mindful eating brings us home to our body, and a more joyful experience with food.

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