What is mindful eating and how to use it to achieve your wellness goals are questions I often get. Being a Nutrition and Mindful Eating Coach many often assume that I've always been a healthy eater, but that couldn't be any further from the truth.
Back in 2016 after years of hopping from one diet to another, I was a recovering binge eater looking for a way to eat healthily that didn't require me counting calories or following a restrictive diet.
So, I started searching for a solution other than dieting, and in that process, I stumbled upon the concept of mindful eating. At first, I thought it was all about taking time to chew your food and eat slowly. While that is certainly an aspect of being a mindful eater it is only part of the story.
Mindful eating as defined by The Center of Mindful Eating is about bringing full attention and awareness to food choice and the experience of eating so that you can reconnect with your innate inner wisdom about hunger and satiety. 
In other words, mindful eating is less about following food rules and more about awareness of hunger so that you can make food choices that align with what your body needs at that moment.
As someone who had struggled for years to trust her inner wisdom when it came to food, mindful eating felt like the answer to my prayers:
- For one, mindful eating helped me better understand that there is no right way or wrong way to eat.
- Secondly, it helped me become more aware of the impacts that my food choices had on my overall health and wellbeing.
- Lastly, it gave me the permission to rid myself of the food guilt that I carried around for years for not making the "right" food choices.
Needless to say, mindful eating is a gift that keeps on giving.
If you're someone who has been struggling with trying to find a style of eating that will work for you, in this post I'm sharing with you three ways to use mindful eating to achieve your wellness goals.
3 Ways to Use Mindful Eating to Achieve Your Wellness Goals
1. Be Present In The Moment
When you're looking to achieve your goals, one of the first steps that you can take is to be more present with yourself and with your food. Being more present allows you to better understand when you're making food choices that are based on feeding your physical hunger (i.e. you are starving) or your emotional hunger (i.e. you are stressed).
For instance, I noticed when I first started eating mindfully that I really struggled with late-night cravings:
- Back in the day, the solution would have been to avoid eating until I finally broke down and just ate everything in house and home.
- Through practicing mindful eating I realized that my late-night cravings had less to do with being undisciplined and more to do with the fact that I was working late into the night.
- Knowing that I was going to be up late, I started preparing healthier snacks during the day that I could enjoy on those nights I knew I needed to be up late to finish a project.
- What that allowed me to do was make healthier food choices, and as a result, I was able to reduce my cravings for sweets.
While there might be different reasons that you aren't present with your food, the key thing is to (1) identify why you're not being present and (2) do something about it. This will enable you to engage in habits that get you closer to rather than farther away from your goals.
2. Be Aware of Your Emotions
Another aspect of achieving your wellness goals that aren't talked about enough is the impact that your external environment can have on your internal environment. When we are overwhelmed and stressed, we can find ourselves making food choices from a place of wanting to comfort ourselves even if doing so is counter to our wellness goals.
Before I became a mindful eater one of the ways that I used to respond to stress was through comfort eating:
- When I became a more mindful eater, I made the choice to unlearn that behavior.
- By incorporating mindful eating practices into my daily routine, I discovered those stressful moments in which I was triggered to eat for comfort.
- Rather than eating for comfort, I utilized stress management techniques, such as meditation, exercise, and journaling to reduce stress.
- Through that process, I developed a healthier way of dealing with stress that has helped me become more resilient.
Even though there are many reasons why we comfort eat, the vital thing to remember is that the problem does not go away by eating. Ensuring that you're addressing those stressors in your life is key for helping you achieve your wellness goals with far less effort and far greater results.
3. Be Grateful for What Is
Gratitude is an attitude that is truly non-negotiable on your wellness journey because everything is not always going to go as planned. No matter how disciplined you are, the only thing that you can truly control is how you chose to respond to the world around you.
In the process of becoming a mindful eater, I developed a better sense of gratitude for the journey that I was on not just the destination:
- That allowed me to recognize that what differentiates mindful eating from other practices is that there truly is no right way or wrong way to eat.
- When you learn to eat more mindfully you grow a better understanding that every person's eating experiences are unique to them.
- Instead of coming from a place of judgment when you're choosing something that isn't "healthy" you have an understanding of why you made that choice.
- That understanding guides you to make the best choice for you at that moment, even if it's not the healthiest choice.
What we gain from mindful eating is a better understanding that it's not about making healthy choices, but making choices that are guided by what our bodies need (i.e. sometimes my body needs a kale salad, and other times it needs a vegan donut.)
Thus, mindful eating is a journey that will not only help you understand the impact of food on your overall health and wellbeing but you'll gain a greater understanding of yourself. That is how you use mindful eating to achieve your wellness goals!
- Mindful Eating. The Center for Mindful Eating. https://www.thecenterformindfuleating.org/
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