Eating can be deeply connected to your emotions and your mind. It's not an overnight switch, but with mindfulness, we can develop new skills to explore habits that undermine the healthy eating habits you are looking to cement in your life. There's not a better time to try than a fresh New Year. Here’s a handy guide to try. Remember -- we are here to support you if you need it!
We all experience moments of indulgence that lead to overeating. If it happens once in a while, it’s nothing to worry about. If it happens frequently, you may wonder if you have an overeating problem or "food addiction." Before you worry, know that neither of those is considered an official medical diagnosis. In fact, the existence of food addiction is hotly debated.
"If it exists, food addiction would be caused by an actual physiological process, and you’d experience withdrawal symptoms if you didn’t have certain foods, such as those with sugar. But that’s a lot different than saying you love sugar and it’s hard not to eat it," notes Helen Burton Murray, a psychologist and director of the Gastrointestinal Behavioral Health Program in the Center for Neurointestinal Health at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
Many people unconsciously overeat and don’t realize it until after they finish a meal. That’s where mindfulness exercises can help you stick to reasonable portion sizes.
But she urges you to seek professional help if your thoughts about eating are interfering with your ability to function each day. Your primary care doctor is a good place to start.
What is mindful eating?
Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment, and observing the inputs flooding your senses. At meal time: "Think about how the food looks, how it tastes and smells. What’s the texture? What memories does it bring up? How does it make you feel?" Burton Murray asks.
By being mindful at meals, you’ll slow the eating process, pay more attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, and perhaps avoid overeating.
"It makes you take a step back and make decisions about what you’re eating, rather than just going through the automatic process of see food, take food, eat food," Burton Murray says.
Set yourself up for success in being mindful when you eat by:
More mindfulness exercises to try
Practicing mindfulness when you’re not eating sharpens your mindfulness "muscles." Here are exercises to do that.
Don’t worry about trying to be mindful all day long. Start with a moment here and there and build gradually. The more mindful you become throughout your day, the more mindful you’ll become when you eat. And you may find that you’re better able to make decisions about the food you consume.
Start a diet plan that will last long-term and be effective for the entire year. At Miller PT, we offer personalized nutrition programs that meet your needs for the best performance. Connect with us to discuss your challenges or concerns at (561) 278-6055 -- stay connected and join our Facebook page!