For many people, mood related eating is the number one barrier to taking control of their weight. On a societal level, the practice of eating has shifted from purely eating to receive the fuel required to function optimally, to eating for comfort and momentary satisfaction. Stress, boredom, a change in routine, illness and other non-hungry triggers lead many individuals to eating to try and change their emotional state.
In reality, our emotional state remains unchanged after comfort eating episodes, and we again experience the heightened guilt or emotion that got us into the mess in the first place. Before we know it, our weight has begun to creep upwards – potentially exposing us to a range of adverse health conditions.
Often the first port of call for trying to alleviate a weight problem is to try to substitute with better food choices, and changing the 7:30pm post-dinner-bag-of-chips boredom hour with a lower calorie option. On the surface this seems appropriate, however it really does very little to correct the underlying behaviours.
Eating mindfully requires us to not only consider WHAT and HOW MUCH food we eat, but to also emphasise WHY and HOW we eat.
To halt the self-perpetuating cycle of comfort eating, we firstly need to develop some awareness of our eating environment. Once we understand this we can then try to manipulate our eating environment, to one that is conducive to making healthy food decisions.
Basic mindful eating tips:
- Don’t eat in front of the television. When preoccupied, we eat more food at a faster rate, and don’t appreciate the taste and texture of our food.
- Ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry right now, or have my emotions led me here?”
- Take time eating your meals. Appreciate the texture and flavour of our food. It is not a race.
- Listen to your internal hunger cues: “Am I satisfied already ? Do I really need to finish everything on my plate?”