Mundful is defined as awareness of the present moment, with acceptance and without judgment. Many times we are in a certain time and place, but our minds and emotions are focused on another situation. When we eat it’s the same, we don’t do it in a conscious way, paying full attention and enjoying our food. Food is closely linked to our social life: in each meeting, celebration or party, we get together to eat and drink. Each individual also generates a particular relationship with food and in this article we are going to analyze some of those variables. For a better extension of the topic, we recommend the book “A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food” by Jan Chozen Bays.
Food has an emotional component of which we are often not aware, that’s why it is important to learn to stop and analyze our emotions. When we consume food to satisfy emotional needs, we usually overeat without even really enjoy what we are eating. Our meal does not satisfy us because we are trying to cover another type of emotional need. The initial anguish or negative emotion that we had and wanted to appease with food does not go away and still worse, new feelings of guilt arise, judging, criticizing and punishing ourselves for the excess committed.
Food is a way of giving affection, of showing love and is linked to our emotions from the moment we have born and our mother feeds us. Food generates satisfaction and pleasure, but it can also cause suffering when it’s difficult for us to control what we eat.
Culturally, food also functions as a reward system, for example when we were children, if we behaved well, they gave us a chocolate. In some cases, it also functioned as a punishment system, when they took away the reward in response to a bad behavior or sent us to sleep without eating. Those circumstances often generate a specific link with certain foods, chocolate is not just chocolate, we had linked emotions associated with chocolate that have to do with our past. Following the self-discovery path we must be able to observe our thoughts, our emotions, our sensations and our impulses. We often eat while watching TV, looking at the phone or reading the newspaper and we do not stop when we feel full but when there is no more food on the plate. That happens because we are not having contact with our body, with our sensations.
Many people manage to lose weight following a dietary regimen , but when they finish the diet they recover the pounds they’ve lost. Why? Because they didn’t really change their relationship with food. Restrictive diets sometimes are not working for long term, what we must achieve is to be able to make contact with our emotions to control what we eat, supporting our efforts with the goal of having a better quality of life. We should not eat until we are full, we must identify that intermediate point of satiety between being hungry and being full. We must be aware, not eat because we are bourried, because of the routine or to appease negative emotions, we should eat when we are hungry, paying attention to our food, enjoying what we eat.
The objective of mindful eating is to get in touch with the present moment when we eat, analyze our emotions, keep track of our body and our physical sensations to feed ourselves consciously.
It is also interesting to observe the effects that certain foods have on us. For example, sugar makes us tired when the exciting effect is over, often causing irritability, mood swings, addiction and anxiety. Fats do not help us to do activities after consuming them. Alcohol acts as a disinhibitor.
Among the recommendations that Mindful Eating gives us we can mention the following:
– Eat slowly to be aware of your sensations
– Pay attention to your food and what you are doing and feeling while you eat
– Eat the right amount according to the record of our body
– Do not eat for routine, trust what your body asks
– Make an energy equation according to your activities
– Enjoy the food. When we try to appease certain emotions, we don’t even enjoy the food. The initial emotion does not go away and on top of that, we add negative feelings of guilt. Before eating it’s good to stop and analyze how are you feeling. If you are anxious or nervous, you should relax before eating.