healthy food / making healthy changes

Getting Healthy the Mindful Way

In a recent (Jan. 2011) IDEA Fitness Journal article entitled

“Weight Loss the Mindful Way”

eating mindlessly is given as a possible reason why we may not be losing the weight we desire.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Mindless eating means that what, when and how much we eat runs counter to both the body’s true needs and our own health goals.

“In many cases, it’s not the meals we eat that cause weight gain,” says Susan Albers, PsyD, author of Eat, Drink and Be Mindful, it’s the snacking, the mindless eating while watching television, when we’re on autopilot and not really aware of what we’re eating.  Plus, the majority of our food decisions have nothing to do with hunger.  They have to do with stress, anxiety, sadness or frustration.

Mindfulness can help. 

Mindfulness means paying attention, both to inner cues (thoughts, emotions and sensations) and to your environment. 

Albers breaks eating mindfully into three areas:

(1) Mindful Eating in the Moment.  Get rid of distractions like reading, watching television or eating on the go.
(2) Nonjudgmental Awareness of Eating Habits and Beliefs.
(3) Nonjudgmental Awareness of Environmental and Emotional Triggers.  A bakery case of pastries may trigger a craving that was not there a moment ago.  That craving has noting to do with the body’s true needs and everything to do with the eating environment.  A mindful approach can help you become aware of the difference.

Now, because I know you love to exercise, here are 3 Exercises (provided by Dr. Albers) to help you develop mindful eating habits:

Three Steps to Mindful Eating

 1. Tuning in to the physical characteristics of food.

Make each bite a mindful bite. Think of your mouth as being like a magnifying glass, zooming in. Imagine that each bite is magnified 100 percent. Pay close attention to all your senses. Use your tongue to feel the texture. Gauge the temperature.  Take a whiff of the aroma.  Ask yourself, How does it really taste?  What does it feel like in my mouth?  Is this something I really want? Does it satisfy my taste buds? Is my mind truly present when I take a bite so that I experience it fully?

2. Tuning in to repetitive habits and the process of eating.

Notice how you eat.  Fast?  Slow? In private?  Never put your fork down between bites?  Are you stuck in any mindless habits? — eating a snack at the same time each day, multitasking while you eat, or eating the same foods over and over again.  Ask yourself,  Is there something I do over and over again that lends itself to mindless eating?  Do I have any ingrained habits concerning how I snack? When I pick up my fork, what stands in the way of my feeling in charge of my eating?

3. Tuning in to mindless eating triggers.

Be keenly aware of specific cues that prompt you to start and stop eating.  Is your kitchen a hot spot for snacking?  Does a hard day (or other feelings, such as stress, discomfort, or boredom) lead to a food binge? Or, do judgmental thoughts like “I’m an idiot!” trigger mindless eating?  Become an expert on the emotional buttons that trigger you to eat when you aren’t physically hungry. When you know your triggers, you can anticipate them before they happen and do some troubleshooting.  Ask yourself, What am I feeling right before I mindlessly snack? Is my environment, emotional state, or dining companion helping or hurting my efforts to eat healthier?

Dr. Susan Albers 2008 ©

These Mindful Eating Exercises are available in pdf form: Three Steps to Mindful Eating.

Have Mindful Thursday!


P.S.  The vintage Give Thanks spoon is made by Wooden Hive.  They have all manner of exceptionally awesome utensils.

P.P.S.  Another really good way to slow down and become more mindful when eating is to think about where your food comes from.  Where did the rice come from?  Where did the lettuce come from?  If you are eating cheese, exactly what is cheese?  Where did the cheese come from?  You can also consider what the food you are eating can do for you (or, I suppose, you could also consider what it is not doing for you).  These simple things will make you more conscious.


5 thoughts on “Getting Healthy the Mindful Way

  1. Love the post! Yes, mindless eating is a huge issue for many.. like that sitting on the couch watching TV & before you know it, the bag of chips is gone…. mindful eating is so important! Experience the taste & slow down & enjoy!

    Finished off the week & glad for rest days. A bit tired but pushed Thur. I think I am still fighting the dental work so taking a bit away from the workouts but all in good time!m:-)

  2. We FINALLY got to the gym this week – I just haven’t been feeling like working out lately, which is not unusual for me in January.

    I didn’t feel very bouncey (that’s for your Greg) today so I just walked on the treadmill for 2.5 miles, however, I did walk uphill for about 1 mile at incline 10. We did abs afterwards and then had to get going because it was time for work.

  3. This post was perfect for me today. I was in my jeep having a few candy hearts, that I just purchased at Target and all of the sudden I thought, wow, these really are not very good, so I spit them out in a bag( to much info sorry) and thought of all the great tasting food I could have in place of the high sugar, high calorie hearts!!! mindful eating!!!

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