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Benefits of practicing mindfulness eating

By Debbie Pannowitz
from The Mindful Nutritionist

I used to walk down the street, and everyone would acknowledge each other. Perhaps by just moving aside, a nod, a smile or the words hello. Today this is rare. Instead we are tuned into something on our phone that is fed into our ears. We have become very skilled at tuning-out (absent minded) but what would it mean if we chose to just once in a while, tune-in (mindful). It doesn’t have to be something new to add to your busy schedule or involve some uncomfortable seated position and an awkward attempt to quieten the mind. What if mindfulness could be practiced whilst doing an everyday activity? In fact, mindfulness can be practiced when walking or doing the dishes.

What is mindful eating? Mindful eating is a practice that develops our skills at being aware of our food choices, by pausing to tune in to the experience of food. This may be through sight, taste, sound, texture or aroma of food. It helps us tune-in to what might make us feel satisfied or what might be a temporary fix for hunger, or to know when food is being used to satisfy another hunger in your life. We have all at one time or another reached for the chocolates when, we would rather just scream about something in our life!

Some of the benefits of practicing mindful eating may include:

  • Helping us make choices about food rather than fall back on habits that may be unhealthy
  • Helping us to recognise that we are truly hungry and when satiety is reached, thus help us avoid overeating
  • Gaining a greater enjoyment of food – we can all ‘hoover’ a meal up without actually really enjoying
  • Helping us to pause to make choices and therefore feel more in control of our eating
  • Helping move us away from a dieting culture which can lead to feelings of deprivation and possibly guilt if we ‘fall off the wagon’. Negative emotions are often triggers for overeating or eating unhealthily.
  • Helping us make food choices for the purpose of wellbeing
  • Helping us recognise our own psychological, emotional, environmental and physical cues to eating and gives us the space to make choices rather than operate on automatic pilot
  • Helping us to be empowered to make our own choices rather than act from habit

You are probably saying to yourself, does this sound like something I might benefit from? Well, if you can answer yes to any of the following then it just might be worth a shot!

  • You sometimes eat when you are not hungry
  • The choices you make about food are largely from habit
  • You long for calm but can be overtaken by fear, irritation or worry and sometimes food is the only salve
  • You are confused by the many directives given about healthy eating and how to achieve them
  • You have digestion problems
  • You eat while watching TV or at your desk just so you can meet a deadline
  • People comment on you eating quickly

You can read more about mindful eating from my previous blogs on the ATMS website. Until next time…be well. 

More about the author

Debbie Pannowitz
– The Mindful Nutritionist

Debbie Pannowitz Grad Dip Hlth Sci (Nutr Med), RSKP, MSc, MBA), the Mindful Nutritionist, gathers over 20 years of experience in healthcare and combines her clinical experience of nutrition medicine and kinesiology to meld individualized mindful eating programs via consults, courses and retreats. ​She is a public speaker and the author of Heal with Food - Food Farmacopoeia. She has an extensive career in scientific research, the food and health industries and is particularly interested in clarity in healthcare communication. She has a number of publications to her name, lectured and tutored at several of the major natural therapy colleges throughout Australia and writes occasionally for journals and community newspapers. Her preferred habitat is a vege patch.