Mindful Eating

Allen Chapman, PA-C ,

full_Slide02.jpgTo change our habits we have to engage our conscious mind. When we identify a habit we want to change and accept that we the power to make the change, we have to consciously replace our old habit with a new one. It is much easier for us to choose to do something, like eat more vegetables, than to not do something, like eat less junk food. To sustain change, we have to remain aware and mindful of our behavior. Mindful eating promotes sustained positive change.

Sometimes we can better understand a concept by illustrating the opposite. So, what is mindless eating? When we go out to a movie, my wife just loves movie theater popcorn, and she likes to get a ridiculous sized tub-o-popcorn. If I hold the popcorn in my lap during the movie, I will eat it, continuously, without conscious enjoyment. After a few handfuls I don’t even like it anymore, and yet I will continue to eat it unless I remove it from my lap. That is mindless eating.

How do we overcome mindless eating? Distance is your friend. The tub-o-popcorn on the floor is no temptation. In your lap, it’s a different story altogether. If you choose to eat, pay attention while eating, don’t multitask. Savor the treat, enjoy it, pay attention to your sensations, and stop eating as soon as your craving is satisfied. Use single portion sized containers to aid you with portion control. Lay’s potato chips once used the slogan: “An open bag is an empty bag.” It’s often true: buy a smaller bag.

Mindful eating doesn’t mean never eating decadent foods. It means making a conscious choice whether to do so or not. If we do choose to indulge ourselves, it should be a conscious choice. When eating mindfully, we appreciate the flavors, aromas and sensations the food provides to us. Then we consciously decide when we’ve had enough and stop eating. Last we experience no guilt over the decision because it was a decision made consciously.

We aren’t striving to be perfect, just good enough often enough. We don’t need to have a perfect relationship with food to become thinner and healthier people. Through mindful eating we can reduce the frequency and magnitude of our dietary imperfections. When we have more perfect minutes and hours, we have more good days. More good days translates to more good weeks, months and years. Mindful eating is an excellent strategy for becoming the thinner, healthier you that you’ve always dreamed of.