Prevent the Mindless Munchies

Take a moment to reflect on the emotions you experience prior to eating.  How about during and after?  Did you notice sadness, guilt, shame or boredom?

For many eating is not about nourishing their body or even tasting the food.  More than a quarter of Americans are currently considered obese.  The excessive eating or binge eating that can lead to obesity is characterized rapid eating, hiding food, eating until uncomfortably full and a sense of impaired control.

In contrast, mindful eating is about tuning in to the experience of eating.  It is about taking the time to notice and taste your food.  Mindful eating involves an awareness of your body as you eat.  And checking in while eating to determine if you are full.  Mindful eating has been studied as an intervention for eating disorders.  Binge eaters who participated in a 9 week mindful eating program reduced binge eating episodes and more studies are underway.

So why are so many American’s eating mindlessly, emotionally and seeing the negative results on the scale?  According to the CDC, America has become characterized by environments that promote eating.  And not just any eating.  We are surrounded by these environments—think of fast food or the food court at the mall—that promote unhealthy eating and physical inactivity.  At a fast food restaurant, you don’t even have to get out of the car to consume thousands of calories.

You make decisions about eating based on your environment.  If your environment promotes mindless eating, you’re likely to mindlessly eat.  Is there a bowl of candy on your desk at work?  Do you have a bag of chips at the ready for munching in front of the TV?  You may not have control over the local mall, but you can make some choices at home and work to change your environment to promote more mindful eating.

Below are some principles of Mindful Eating developed by The Center For Mindful Eating and reproduced from their web site

Someone Who Eats Mindfully:
• Acknowledges that there is no right or wrong way to eat but varying degrees of awareness surrounding the experience of food.
• Accepts that his/her eating experiences are unique.
• Is an individual who by choice, directs his/her awareness to all aspects of food and eating on a moment-by-moment basis.
• Is an individual who looks at the immediate choices and direct experiences associated with food and eating: not to the distant health outcome of that choice.
• Is aware of and reflects on the effects caused by unmindful eating.
• Experiences insight about how he/she can act to achieve specific health goals as he/she becomes more attuned to the direct experience of eating and feelings of health.
• Becomes aware of the interconnection of earth, living beings, and cultural practices and the impact of his/ her food choices has on those systems.

Click here for more on mindful eating.

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