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What Is Mindful Eating?

Media, food companies, and health advocates are flooding our minds with exactly what and how much to eat down to the specific calorie count...

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Media, food companies, and health advocates are flooding our minds with exactly what and how much to eat down to the specific calorie count. While making healthier choices on what we eat is important, we’re still missing a key piece of the puzzle – how we eat.

Mindful eating

Mindful eating, better known as intuitive eating, is all about the process of eating. The process of eating includes everything from how we feel before, during, and after a meal, who we eat with, where we eat, and what distractions are present during mealtime. Are you paying attention to your food or are you scrolling through social media? The term intuitive eating was coined by Registered Dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995, but the movement behind psychology and eating began in the early 1970s when fad diets started hitting the market.

According to Tribole and Resch, intuitive eating is a personal connection between the mind and body allowing one to honor their health through “listening and responding to direct messages of the body to meet your physical and psychological needs.”

The benefits

It is a method that benefits both mental and physical health while creating a healthy relationship between you and your food. In other words, this is a non-diet approach to eating. So, think twice before you hop on the next fad-diet-train. Dieting has been known to increase the risk of eating disorders, over-eating, body dissatisfaction, weight cycling, and depression. The good news is that mindful eating will bring you back to the basics by eliminating any dieting stigmas, allowing you to enjoy all foods without restriction, and enhancing the awareness between you and your hunger cues.

With the 10 principles of intuitive eating, you’ll gain confidence in your eating habits and ultimately feel better overall. Follow the actionable steps below, including the 10 principles, and live your life diet-free!

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Actionable Steps


1

Read the longer version

To learn more, read these articles reviewed by our professionals: What is Intuitive Eating by Nutrition Stripped, Mindful Eating: What it is and why you should try it by Alissa Rumsey and What is Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole.

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Start with the 10 principles of mindful eating. Principle 1 – Forget the diet mentality

Diets are for the short-term and usually involve unsafe eating habits. Practice mindful eating for the long run and see long-term results.

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Principle 2 – Honor your hunger

Eat when you’re slightly hungry. Stop eating when you’re comfortably satisfied. Be aware of your hunger cues. Use this hunger scale (ranging from 1 to 10) before, during, and after eating to check in with your body. Aim to eat when you feel hungry and feel signs of hunger like your stomach growling (this is a 3-4 on the scale). Check in with your hunger during your meal and only eat until you feel satisfied (about a 6-7 on the scale).

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Principle 3 – Make peace with food

Stop labeling foods as “good” or “bad.” All foods fit, and feeling guilty about eating certain foods is not fun.

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Principle 4 – Challenge the food police

Food police have unrealistic and unreasonable rules. Put a stop to thoughts that make you feel sad, guilty, or negative towards eating.

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Principle 5 – Discover the satisfaction factor

Be happy with your food experiences. Satisfy yourself with an overall good experience, good company, a variety of flavors, and indulgent treats while knowing when you’ve had enough to eat.

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Principle 6 – Feel your fullness

Listen to your body and its hunger cues. Take frequent pauses while eating and stop eating when you feel satisfied.

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Principle 7 – Cope with your emotions with kindness

Emotional binge-eating might feel good in the moment, but it brings a lot of guilt to the surface afterward and doesn’t truly fix the cause of the negative emotion. Find non-eating habits and hobbies to help deal with boredom, anxiety, and sadness like exercising, talking with friends, enjoying the outdoors, or journaling.

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Principle 8 – Respect your body

We are all built differently and that’s the way it’s meant to be! Be comfortable with who you are and how you are built to be as unique as can be.

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Principle 9 – Movement: Feel the difference

Get up and move! It doesn’t have to be a 30-minute all-out workout. Just move your body throughout the day and create energy the way your body is designed.

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Principle 10 – Honor your health: Gentle nutrition

Choose foods that make you feel good, better, and best. Those nutrition choices don’t have to be perfect, but know that you’re making progress, not perfection, towards a healthier lifestyle.

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Test it out

Try this mindful eating exercise. Grab a raisin, get comfortable, eliminate distractions, and just focus on you and your food. This helps put mindful eating in perspective by heightening all the senses and keeping you in tune with your hunger cues.

About the Author


shannon costello

Shannon Costello

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

Shannon is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Health Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, and Group Fitness Instructor with over 5 years of experience working in Corporate Wellness specializing in overall health, nutrition, and fitness. Throughout her journey to becoming an RDN, she grew her passion for culinary nutrition by teaching and developing hands-on cooking classes for all ages in the community.
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