Is It Mindful Eating or Obsession?

You have likely heard a word or two on mindful eating.  This practice is touted as beneficial for both mind and body, but it can be hard to implement.  How many of us are actually present (no television, no phone scrolling) while eating a meal? While it is important to find presence with our food, there is a fine line between being aware and mindful and being obsessed.  In our diet obsessed culture, thinking about food can easily become self hatred and policing due to external food rules. If you want to work on mindful eating, but have a past (or current) history with dieting, try to be aware of the triggers and info below so you don’t slip into obsession about each bite that enters your mouth.

How to eat mindfully:

Eating mindfully emphasizes a positive atmosphere and awareness of your food.  You might be aware of the following:

  • What does my food smell like?  
  • What does my food look like?
  • What are all the subtle flavors of my food?
  • What are the sounds around me (from your environment and/or your company)
  • What does this meal and experience remind me of?
  • How is my body responding to this food – am I satisfied?

Gentle awareness is key to mindfulness, you are taking in information with an unbiased point of view.  Everything you notice with your senses is teaching you about your body, your food, and your connection to both as well as to any people with whom you share the meal.  So what are the red flags that mindfulness isn’t so mindful?

Are you a.png

How to recognize obsession:

The biggest red flag is judgement.  Are you taking a negative view of your food experience?  Are you thinking any of the following:

  • This food is “bad”
  • I am eating “too much” or “too little”
  • I shouldn’t be eating this
  • I will have to “work this off” later
  • What are the ingredients in this? Are they OK?
  • What will I have for the next meal to counteract this?

All of these thoughts are judgmental and are not focused in the present moment.  Rather than tuning into your senses, these types of thoughts are signals that you are separated from your senses and are in tune with only your mind (and not your healthiest mindset might I add).  

You might hear people say to be “mindful” of your portions or of what you eat in general.  Often, someone on a diet will say he or she is just “being mindful” of food intake. The message there is more diet focused.  Truly being mindful means being present and nonjudgmental, it is almost like a meditation on your food.  

If you struggle with mindful eating and often feel yourself leaving the present moment by thinking negatively about your food, try to go through each of your senses during a meal.  Scan through the smells, sights, tastes, textures, and see what objective information is there. The more you practice this presence, the easier it can become to let go of the food police that is obsessing over your food.

If you are looking for support with mindful eating, intuitive eating, or your relationship with food in general, contact me!  I work with clients one on one and would be happy to see if we would be a good fit. Check out my Contact page.