I'm sitting on the couch mindlessly stuffing my face with handfuls of holiday carmel corn when my fingers reach the bottom of the container. In amazement, I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!
We call this mindless eating. Most of us have done it. If you want to know why, you might consider picking up Brian Wansink’s book, “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.”
So what’s the solution? Obviously it’s mindful eating: learning to pay attention to what we're eating. Dr. Susan Albers* gives us the following questions to answer to help us develop this skill:
1. Are you tasting each bite or are you zoned out when you eat?
2. How does your body feel before and after eating? Do you have low energy? Are you empty or full?
3. What do you feel about this food? Guilt? Pleasure? Joy? Disappointment? Regret?
4. What thoughts do this food bring to mind? Memories? Beliefs? Myths? Fears?
The purpose of asking these questions is to help us become more aware of what we are eating and how it affects us. Why does this matter? Here’s what the research shows about the results of mindful eating**:
· More controlled eating
· Less overeating
· Weight Loss
· Lower BMI
· Improved health, especially for those with Type 2 Diabetes
**Kristeller J. L. and R. Q. Wolever. 2011. "Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training for Treating Binge Eating Disorder: The Conceptual Foundation." Eating Disorders. 19(1): 49-61.
Tapper, K., C. Shaw, J. Ilsley, A. J. Hill, F. W. Bond, and L. Moore. 2009. "Exploratory Randomised Controlled Trial of a Mindfulness-Based Weight Loss Intervention for Women." Appetite. 52(2): 396-404.
Dalen J., B. W. Smith, B. M. Shelley, A. L. Sloan, L. Leahigh, and D. Begay. 2010. "Pilot Study: Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL): Weight, Eating Behavior, and Psychological Outcomes Associated with a Mindfulness-Based Intervention for People with Obesity." Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 18(6): 260-4.