Mindfulness. Makes sense- why we should be more mindful in our lives, and how it is done, has become more and more popular in recent years. Studies have proven the benefits of it, mentally and even physically (to find out more about what mindfulness is, check out Part 1 of the mindfulness series here.)
But Mindful Eating? What is that now and how can it help me?
Next to the well-known eating disorders of Anorexia and Bulimia, medicine now recognizes a new condition which has been coined Orthorexia. It is an unhealthy obsession with ‘healthy eating’ and following one diet after the other. Even the newest trend of ‘clean eating’ can often be an excuse to hide behind what is essentially just another eating disorder - controlling food and calorie intake aimed at weight loss. For decades we have been guinea pigs in a failed dietary experiment, and the implications and damages of this are far reaching.
We all know that the term ‘Western Diet’ has negative connotations. It’s a synonym for unhealthy eating habits, fast foods and negative health effects: An increase in type B diabetes, rising obesity and cancer. Fad diets and usual diets end up failing, and 85% of obese individuals who lose weight return to, or exceed, their initial weight within a few years. 75% of all doctors' visits are due to stress-related illnesses and disorders.
Whatever we are doing - It isn’t working! We need a different solution. In comes Mindful Eating.
Mindful Eating is not a diet, and it does not prescribe a meal plan or restrict your calorie and food intake. Rather, it means going back to what your body knows to be right and true - being in tune with your body again without reacting to influences from media, ads and other people. If weight loss is something that your body needs, then it will automatically happen. Mindful Eating helps you to understand and listen to your body, and fall in love with real food that is nourishing and vitalizing - as opposed to seeing food, macro nutrients (fats, carbohydrates and proteins) or calories as the enemy. With time and practice you will automatically start to make the right choices for yourself and your body. You will be able to take back control over your eating habits, becoming aware of habits that don’t serve you and choosing to change them, despite internal and external influences.
You don’t need to be obese or have a health issue in order to benefit from Mindful Eating. We are prone to reacting to a crisis only when it shows up - such as obesity, or a decline in health, whereas the sensible approach would be to tackle these issues before a crisis even has the chance to occur. It is important to note that Mindful Eating is not a quick fix, but rather a long-term solution to a long-standing problem. I cannot prescribe a magic formula and some of the techniques and advice given might seem weirdly obvious to you, and you’ll wonder why they need to be pointed out (drink more water, for example). Then you’ll realise that in order to change habits, becoming aware of what we are doing is already winning half the battle.
I am a Co-Founder of Soul Space, a yoga teacher, and nutrition and weight management advisor. You can read more about me and how I can help you, here. If you would like to get in touch about any of the issues discussed above and want to know more about mindfulness or mindful eating, you can reach us on firstname.lastname@example.org Please note that if you feel you are battling with an eating disorder, please seek professional help. We can help get you in touch with the right people.