To be mindful is to be “conscious or aware of something”. How often are you totally conscious- aware of and responding to your environment- of what you’re eating? Do you really taste your food when you eat it? Take time to appreciate it? Know how much you’re eating? Really discern whether you are full or not, eating for hunger or not? Too often we tell ourselves we’ll only have one slice of pizza and eat half the pie. We go beyond our self-set limits because we go unconscious when we eat. We stop being aware of what we are eating, how we are eating it, and the effect it has on our body. We eat only to feed ourselves, sometimes we eat to feed our emotions. Essentially, we become mindless about our eating.
For all forms of mental health recovery, eating, diet, and nutrition are essential parts of a recovery program. Mindfulness is a practice that can be applied to all areas of recovery because mindfulness is applied to all areas of life. As a form of but separate from meditation, mindfulness helps focus the mind. Practicing mindfulness is as easy as paying more attention, becoming more aware, noticing more, and bringing an element of non-judgment. When you’re reaching for that next mindless snack, you’ll suddenly find yourself thinking- why am I eating? Should I be eating? Do I want to be eating this if I am hungry?
According to the Center for Mindful Eating, mindful eating is defined as being aware of how healing and nurturing food can be. Using food preparation as an opportunity to connect with your food and respecting your “inner wisdom” about food are mindfulness practices as well. When you choose mindfully, you are “choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor and taste.” You recognize your autonomy in responding to food authentically. Mindfulness allows you to eat what you like and what you don’t like without judging yourself. Lastly, mindful eating helps you to become aware of your physical hunger to know when you’re truly hungry and when you’re not as well as when you’re still hungry as opposed to when you’re eating for other reasons.
Mindfulness is studied for its beneficial effects in reducing stress and symptoms of mental health stressors like anxiety and depression. Research has found that mindfulness reduces stress and improves mental clarity, improving habits and behaviors. When you bring mindfulness into your eating, you make eating a conscious, connected experience which provides benefits to your mind as well as your body.
Avalon By The Sea incorporates mindfulness and meditation trainings into our clinical programs for primary mental health and dual diagnosis substance use disorders. As one of California’s only certified primary mental health facilities, our dual diagnosis programs are exceptionally trusted programs which provide trusted results. For a confidential assessment and more information, call us today: 888-337-2602