Mindfulness is a real buzz word at the moment. We hear it everywhere, but what does it really mean? Is it just a fad? And can mindful eating help with weight loss?
“Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally to things as they are. It allows us to see clearly whatever is happening in our lives.” This definition is by Jon Kabut-Zinn, the man who brought Eastern meditation to the Western academic community and into the mainstream.
A large portion of our lives runs on auto-pilot. We don’t really notice how we feel. This includes when we eat. Do you ever eat just because it’s 1.00 pm or when there’s food on offer, hungry or not? And after a while you try to remember what you actually ate?
Here is an example of the complete opposite of mindful eating.
Imagine you are going to watch a movie at the cinema. You buy a bag of popcorn on your way in and sit watching the trailers before the film begins. When the main film starts, you look down at your empty bag and think, “Where did all my popcorn go?” You ate nearly all of it, but it didn’t registered in your mind. If we always eat this way, we eat a larger quantity of food because we are not consciously eating it and so we don’t feel satisfied or full.
The way to appreciate our food and allow it to register in our conscious mind is to focus on eating. To achieve this, avoid eating at your desk at work or watching TV, for example.
The opposite of the cinema experience would be like Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Do you remember the scene when he savours his 6d bar for days when other children munch theirs down in 10 seconds? Here is a mindfulness meditation involving chocolate if you would like to learn how to really experience chocolate rather than just munching it down. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d984L-IZhIw
Mindful eating – how to achieve it
Take your time paying attention to your food, as if you’d never seen it before. Explore how it looks: the colours, texture, shape and looking at it from all angles. If it is food that you can pick up, then touch it. If it isn’t, use your fork or spoon and bring it up to your nose and smell the food. Notice any particular odour or aroma, or the lack of it. Note whether there are any physical changes in your mouth as you do so.
Only then start to put the food in your mouth, but don’t chew it yet. Notice any sensations as you turn it over in your mouth.
When you’re ready bite down on it, notice what happens in your mouth. Are there any taste sensations and changes in consistency of the food?
Then, when you are ready to swallow, sense the food as it moves down into your stomach. Notice any after effects in your mouth, after having the food in your mouth.
It may feel odd at first, and of course, we don’t always have the time to eat so slowly. However, if you start to really notice your food in this conscious way when you have some time, then gradually you will find that you appreciate your food more and it slows down your eating. This way you end up eating much less and at the same time feeling fuller.
If you would like to find out how mindful eating can help you lose wieght and how hypnotherapy can help, why not get in touch with me, Samantha Culshaw-Robinson. I’m a clinical hypnotherapist and I have been helping people lose weight since 1988. For a full range of programmes please visit my Weight Loss page.
If you would like to book in for a session, please fill in your contact details on my consultation page.
Disclaimer: As with most practices, mindfulness may not be suitable for everyone. If you have any existing mental health conditions or past trauma, you should discuss these with your GP or mental health professional and these should also be disclosed prior to enrolling in a class.