Learning to Eat Mindfully

By on September 25, 2015
Learning to Eat Mindfully

By Collin McShirley –

Has there been a time in your life that you found yourself stuffing your face with junk food or fast food? Maybe you felt you were overweight and unhealthy, addicted to unhealthy snacks, fried fatty foods, and were mindlessly overeating?

It is clear, that type of eating isn’t healthy. Yet sometimes knowing this still isn’t enough. I have a history of personal experience with this myself. The actual content of my diet was a big factor, but just as detrimental was how I ate – emotionally and mindlessly.

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These eating habits developed over time, after years of eating to socialize, to relieve stress, to make myself feel better, to satisfy cravings. I knew it was time to start changing my eating habits. I realized how hard it would be to change, simply because eating was filling so many emotional needs, and because I was constantly resorting to the same routines without giving conscious thought to their consequences on both my body and my mind.

I think the biggest change I made was to tune in… not out.. so I learned how to pay closer attention. I started to become a student of my own diet, of what I ate, the flavors, the textures, and how it made me feel during and after eating. I started to focus consciously on my eating urges, and the emotions that trigged them.

The key changes I noticed came slowly, but when I started paying attention, and actively becoming more mindful, this became the key habit in my change towards a healthier life, and once I made this change, it became a catalyst for other healthy changes as well.  So, what is mindful eating?

The concept of mindful eating is adapted in a more physical sense to the teachings of the mind-body connectedness. Without delving too deeply into the widely accepted physical benefits of general mindfulness here, things like reduced stress, lower blood pressure, better sleep habits, and an overall more positive outlook, Id like to focus on some of the core principles regarding mindful eating itself.

Two first steps on the path of Mindful Eating:

1. Pay Attention:

Mindful eating is learning to eat in the present moment. Become a connoisseur of every meal you have the privilege of being able to appreciate, no matter how inconsequential or routine it may be in your day to day process. Relearn how to appreciate the subtle tastes and textures of your food, even if its something you may have eaten before, try to experience this particular meal as if its the first time again. Also, adding new flavors and experimenting with your meals in small ways can help add to this rebirth of your culinary experience.

2- Ask Questions:

  • Why do I feel like eating – Are there any emotions triggering the eating?
  • What am I eating – Is it healthy for me to consume or is it junk food?
  • Notice the sensation of the food you’re eating – What does it look like? Smell like? Feel like? And, of course, taste like?
  • Be present both during, and after – How does it make you feel as you’re tasting it? As you digest it? Important: How do you feel after eating it?
  • Over or Under eating – Notice if you’re feeling too full or ‘stuffed’? Or is your stomach still empty after eating?
  • Emotional response – Do you feel a sense of guilt and shame? Do you experience regret or self-criticism?

Always keep in mind that like anything else, practice makes perfect. This is simply one more skill that can be improved on and mastered over time to help your overall goals of being healthier and more content.

At its core, this really is a form of food meditation, with the goal of deepening your inner consciousness about what you eat, how you eat, and how that connects to your body and mind.

Learning and developing any new technique or form of thought always has its challenges, and at times it may be difficult not to fall back into more familiar routines and habits, but I encourage you to be kind to yourself whenever this occurs, and know that there is always the next meal for you to practice mindful eating again.

Honestly, the greatest secret of adapting this approach to your diet, is that you will actually learn to love food again. And whatever your particular struggle may be, we all know that in the heart of that storm sometimes we forget to appreciate the small things, and I hope that maybe this can help guide your journey back to a place of healthy happy eating, and a healthy happy mind.

Looking to break free from emotional eating and learn to love your body? Want to do it from the comfort of your home? Go to collinmcshirley.com and call for a free 20 minute discovery session on phone or skype by giving promo code “livingbetter50.” 

About Collin McShirley

Collin Christine McShirley, MA lives in Santa Barbara,CA she has a masters in clinical psychology and is certified in body image, self esteem, and emotional eating. She is also certified in healthy aging from Boston University. She coaches both women and men of all ages on how to learn to love their bodies, break free from emotional eating, and build self-esteem. She is available to coach on the phone and on Skype with people from all over the world. If you're interested in working with her please visit her website at collinmcshirley.com and call or email to set up an appointment.

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Learning to Eat Mindfully