When we engage in eating out of habit or while on “automatic pilot”, we often miss opportunities to choose healthier foods or behaviors.
For example, we may find ourselves eating an entire package of chips or cookies while we watch TV or drive our car. We get to the end of that box or bag and begin to despair, “what have I done?”. Or, we may not have noticed how full we have become until our stomach has become uncomfortable or painful.
It can be frustrating to find ourselves without self-control or choice-making about food! Fortunately, there is a way to take our power back.
When we instead choose to direct our attention mindfully to our bodies and our options throughout the day, we can discover opportunities to make NEW choices. In this way, we become empowered to act as agents of change in our own lives.
How do we exit the state of automatic pilot? Mindfulness!
Mindfulness involves practicing moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment while choosing to apply kindness, compassion, and acceptance to what we find.
One mindful approach to eating is called Attuned Eating. According to Attuned Eating educator and clinical social worker, Judith Matz, we can apply mindfulness to our everyday experiences with food by asking ourselves three simple questions throughout the day:
1. Am I hungry?
Consider what it feels like to be physically hungry. Tune into your stomach and check how it feels. Are you hungry? If yes, move on to question #2.
If the answer is no, what else might you be needing in that moment? Are you seeking abundance, rest, or safety? Choice, freedom, or power? Passion, purpose, or connection? Respect, understanding, or community? Are you bored? Could you meet your need(s) in a more effective way, without food? Would you like to try that approach instead?
2. What food would be the best match?
Identify what your body craves in response to your physical hunger. What food would be the closest match to your craving?
Consider also how you would like to feel after eating. Will the food you select help you to feel that way? How much of that food will you need?
3. Am I full?
What does fullness feel like in your body? Where will you feel it? Practice noticing your state of fullness.
Continue to monitor how full you feel. Decide when you will know you have eaten enough.
When you recognize fullness, what will you do next?
Practicing mindfulness with Attuned Eating can help you to enjoy and savor your food, discover the many choices you have about your food, empower you to be in control of your choice-making, and eat in a way that is more true to yourself.
What do you discover when you tune into your body and your thoughts around food? How does mindful eating influence your eating patterns or food choices?
I love to help my clients develop meaningful mindfulness practices that bring empowerment and positive change. Please reach out if you’d like to give coaching a try!