Mindful Eating: What, When, Why, and How

What is Mindful Eating? Mindful eating is the practice of cultivating an open-minded awareness toward our eating behaviors and the ways in which the foods we choose to eat affect our minds and bodies.

Mindful eating involves:

  • Trusting our own "inner wisdom" related to food and eating

  • Becoming aware of the positive opportunities present through food selection and preparation

  • Using all of our senses in choosing foods that are both satisfying and nourishing

  • Acknowledging our responses to food without judgment

  • Learning to recognize physical cues in guiding our decisions to eat

When should I practice Mindful Eating? You can practice mindful eating any time you are enjoying a meal or snack. Mindful eating is a good activity for those wishing to practice savoring their food, especially highly rewarding ones, like chocolate or cheese.

Why should I practice Mindful Eating? The benefits of mindful eating are numerous and include...

  • Reducing unwanted eating behaviors, such as stress eating and binge eating

  • Promoting eating only when physically hungry

  • Empowering you to make conscious decisions surrounding your eating

  • Reconnecting to your "inner wisdom" regarding hunger and satiety

How can I practice Mindful Eating?

 

If you're in a pinch and don't have time to listen to our guided audio sessions, try some of these tips. Start with one meal per day, then as your practice grows stronger you can implement more regularly!

  • Eliminate all distractions: turn off the TV, close your email, and put down the phone

  • Eat more slowly: chew thoroughly and focus on each bite

  • Don't rush your meals: sit down and give yourself a break at mealtimes

  • Focus on how the food makes you feel: while you're eating it, after each bite, and with every sip of water

  • Ask yourself why you are eating: are you truly hungry, or are you eating for another reason?

  • Ask whether what you are eating is healthy: does it make you feel good?

  • Check in on your satiety after each bite and stop when you feel full

Mindful Eating: Additional Resources

Urge Surfing: What, When, Why, and How

What is Urge Surfing?

Urge surfing is a mindfulness technique that can be used to manage unwanted desires or cravings.

Urge surfing involves:

  • Adopting an open and curious attitude toward the urge

  • Visualizing the urge as a wave that rises in intensity, peaks, and crashes

  • "Riding out" the craving or impulse, rather than fighting it (fighting it only feeds it!)

  • Paying attention to and making note of physical sensations in your body, and how they change over time

  • Engaging in careful and controlled breathing

  • Remaining curious and present during your practice

When should I practice Urge Surfing?

You can practice urge surfing any time you feel a craving coming on. Urge surfing is a good activity for those experiencing an urge to indulge in a food that is rewarding to them but who wish to "ride out" the urge.

Why should I practice Urge Surfing (rather than resisting or distracting)?

 

Urges, by definition, are temporary and borne out of habit. They will only strengthen or recur if you feed them.

 

Trying to resist the urge feeds it by producing feelings of distress around the urge and making it more likely that you will succumb. After all, what's more of a stress reliever than a food that you love? Additionally, the more we try resisting an urge, the more likely it is that we think about the urge and dwell over it.

Trying to distract yourself from the urge also feeds it, as distraction is temporary. The urge is likely to reappear and cause further stress for you down the line.

Urge surfing, on the other hand, allows us to reconnect with the sensations in our body and view the urge without judgment so that we can calm the desire and negative feelings and watch the urge passively until it subsides.

How can I practice Urge Surfing?

 

If you're in a pinch and don't have time to listen to our guided audio sessions, start with the steps outlined below. Be sure you are surfing only one urge at a time!

  • Close your eyes: if possible, in order to limit distractions

  • Watch the breath: breathe normally, without alteration; "watch" as your chest rises and falls; as thoughts surface, gently refocus your attention on the breath

  • Focus on the body: where do you feel the urge? What does it feel like? Try to describe it (e.g., tightness, burning, softness). Does it change with the breath?

  • Picture the urge as a wave: is it strong and unpredictable? Is it slow and steady? Watch it as it peaks, crests, and subsides

  • Practice viewing the urge non-judgmentally: it is only a sensation, after all!

  • Be patient; praise yourself for trying!: self-regulation strengthens willpower; the more you practice, the more skilled you will become, and the easier it will be!

Urge Surfing: Additional Resources

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