Mindful eating: What is it and how can it help you?

Everyone is talking about mindfulness these days but did you know that using mindfulness in your food and drink choices can free you from those dreaded cravings? Getting healthy may involve swapping unhealthy foods for healthier ones, correcting nutrient deficiencies and addressing contributing factors behind certain health conditions. Yet, mindfulness also plays a crucial role in walking the path of wellness.


What's driving you?

We've been brought up to self-medicate using food. As children, most of us were given sugary treats as a reward for being good or to soothe us when we needed cheering up.

Getting mindful about our food and drink choices allows us to break free from the cycle of using foods to self-medicate.

We've been taught to stuff our uncomfortable feelings back inside and ignore them instead of allowing them to surface and listen to them. Next time you feel disappointed, frustrated, angry, or whatever emotion is making you feel uncomfortable, I invite you to just stop and feel it for a few moments. Most of our unhealthy food habits are fuelled by uncomfortable feelings.

Listen to your inner dialogue

We all have an inner dialogue that is on constant replay, often repeating the same old thought processes over and over. When was the last time you listened to your inner dialogue?

Many are surprised to learn that their inner voice is harsh, critical and judgemental. Women especially report that their inner voice was their harshest critic telling them they were not good enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough, etc.

Be your own best friend

Often, when a person begins to speak more kindly to themselves - cheering themselves on, speaking with encouragement (like a good friend would) - they will stop and notice the emotions behind their food and drink choices. And, amazingly, they find that their unhealthy habits simply drop away.

Mindfulness in action

It's as simple as training yourself to notice what is happening in the here and now. Slowing down and being present with whatever is going on for you in any given situation.

Even when you are glugging down that glass of wine as a reward for your hard work of the day, being mindful will allow you to actually appreciate the wine rather than glug it back mindlessly. Sometimes you'll continue with the wine and truly enjoy it, other times you'll realise that you are trying to soothe your discomfort and realise the wine doesn't actually taste that good.

Journalling for self-reflection

This can be a useful tool in helping us to get to grips with the drivers behind our actions. The simple act of writing down what you feel is very powerful. Getting mindful of your inner world is the key to taking actions in your daily life that actually serve you, instead of sabotaging you.

10 ways to be more mindful

1. Learn to breathe deeply to lower your body's stress response.

2. Use breath awareness as a tool to bring you into the present moment.

3. Practice mindfulness in your daily chores, like listening to the water when you wash-up.

4. Learn to meditate and watch your thought processes.

5. Join a Hatha yoga class to still your mind.

7. Start a journal to get in touch with your inner dialogue.

8. Begin noticing how you feel when you eat and drink.

9. Cultivate the habit of talking kindly to yourself.

10. Notice your feelings and simply let them come and go without reacting to them.

Our choices are driven by many complex factors such as our habits, conditioning, emotions and our biochemistry. Yet, too often we disregard our emotions when it comes to getting healthy. However, without mindfulness, we will never be able to address the whole picture and free ourselves from our self-sabotaging behaviours. Get mindful about your habits and begin walking the true path of wellness.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Hove BN3 & London SW11
Written by Jo Rowkins, DipNT MBANT
Hove BN3 & London SW11

Jo Rowkins is a Nutritional Therapist with many years experience in treating a wide variety of conditions. She is particularly interested in helping her clients find "the driver" behind their habits and lifestyle choices, allowing them to find balance in their lives. She is also a yoga and meditation teacher.

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