Mindless Vs Mindful Eating: Meditation Gives You Power Over Food
Mindful Eating: Gain Power Over Your Food
We Humans Are Mindless Eaters
Many of us eat mindlessly. We love to shovel down food as quickly as possible, eat when we are not hungry, eat the wrong foods, overeat — all without a second thought as to why.
And it might be the biggest reason we pack on the pounds.
So, how do we dig ourselves out of this hole? To overcome mindless eating, we need to eat mindfully.
Mindful Eaters Stay "Effortlessly Slim"
We all have that forever slim and trim friend who cares zero about their weight.
Well, a 2015 Cornell Unviversity study (Wansink et al) put 61 of these "effortlessly slim" folks under the microscope to find out what makes them tick.
Study co-author, Brian Wansink, PhD, told Science Daily, "We wanted to find [this group’s] small or simple behaviors that might have a big impact [on why they so easily stay slim]."
So what superpowers did the researchers find? Well, it turns out they were far more "in tune" with their body's "inner cues" about when to eat, what to eat, how much to eat, etc.
In other words, whether they knew it or not, the effortlessly slim folks were actually mindful eaters. So, can regular people acquire this skill?
Yes! As a function of high awareness and sharp intuition, meditation pumps our mindful eating muscle up like a bodybuilder's bicep.
Mindfully "Checking-In" As Our Gastronomic Affairs Unfold
In our fast paced, always distracted outer world, it’s so easy to lose touch with our inner world. Luckily, meditation’s colossal consciousness upgrade spills awareness into all areas of our life.
Mindfulness teaches us the art of "checking-in" throughout our day, including when it's time to nourish our beautiful body.
By reassessing our "inner-happenings" (thoughts, feelings, etc) as our gastronomic affairs unfold, we gain a whole new set of power tools.
"How do I feel right now? Am I still hungry or am I full? Do I really need this food? If I keep going, do I really want my belly to feel like it’s going to burst? Or would I be better off breaking out the tupperware, saving the rest for tomorrow’s lunch?"
In time, slowing down to check-in with our senses becomes as natural as breathing.
With mindless eating the first domino to fall, meditation can work wonders for our mealtime enjoyment, waistline, and health.
Mindfulness Makes Eating A Multi-Sense Experience
When we inhale our meal, we limit ourselves to a mere fraction of the full sensory experience. Thankfully, mindfulness returns us to the truly multi-dimensional adventure that is food.
The skills learned in meditation help us devote our full attention to how our food looks, how it smells, how it feels, and how it tastes.
"How is the texture of this bite different from the last? How about the flavor? How would I describe this meal to someone who has never eaten it before?"
Like taking a minute to appreciate the immense beauty of a flower, mindful eating allows us to take in the awesomeness of the whole gastronomic experience.
With a new love for savory, highly nourishing foods, newly minted meditators often find themselves eating healthier with no real effort on their part.
The Accidental Foodie
With a newfound preference for small, flavorful meals, meditation can quickly transform any recovering "stomach stuffer" into a small meal loving foodie.
Rather than pigging out on a pint of Häagen-Dazs, we learn to savor the full amazingness of one "optimized" scoop of Sicilian pistachio gelato.
When we immerse ourselves in the limitless molecular wonder contained within each and every bite, then food quantity is of little matter.
In the end, the sense magnification achieved through mindful eating infuses bliss and joy into all areas of life, especially our mealtime experience.
Slow, Mindful Eating Moves Weight Loss Mountains
"Nature will castigate those who don't masticate" — Horace Fletcher
While it takes about 20 minutes for our stomach to send the "Hey dum-dum, I‘m already full, stop feeding me!" notification to our brain (which is reason enough to never eat in a panic) — mindfully slowing down our meal goes much deeper.
Chowing down actually prevents us from experiencing the full pleasure of eating.Research suggests that, by eating too quickly, we don't give "leptin", our "I'm full now" satiety hormone, enough time to interact with "dopamine", our main pleasure neurotransmitter.
According to the Harvard Health blog, "The theory is that, by eating too quickly, people may not give this intricate hormonal cross-talk system enough time to work."
When we focus all of our attention on that small but decadent Ghirardelli brownie, we not only enjoy it much more than before — but we actually need LESS of it! Mindful eating satisfies our pleasure receptors after just a few slow, meticulous bites.
As meditation tunes us more deeply into our mind & body, we naturally put to bed countless bad food habits — including overeating, unhealthy snacking, grazing, sugar addiction, emotional eating, & stress eating.
Drop the crash diets. Drop the fad infomercial workout routines. Pickup meditation.
Mindful Eating Wipes Out Overeating
Do you sometimes feel like Joey Chestnut after his record setting 72nd hotdog? While he gets paid to devour voluminous quantities of food every Fourth of July, the rest of us aren’t so lucky.
"You better finish off your entire plate!" Even all these years later, I can still hear mom's commanding voice inside my head...
Whether we blame overeating on our childhood, stressful lives, bad habits, or the 100 other underlying reasons we stuff ourselves like a Thanksgiving turkey — most of us know that it’s not really such a good thing.
If you feel that not finishing your meal borders on the unthinkable, meditation will give you a whole new set of superpowers.
Study: Mindful Eating "Cures" Nearly 100% Of Clinical Binge Eaters
In a joint Duke / Indiana University study (Kristeller et al), a group of 150 overweight / obese mostly clinical binge eaters were trained in mindfulness for four months.
What did the researchers uncover? Amazingly, after four months, 95% of the group no longer fit the binge eating criteria!
While each of us overeat for our own reasons (whatever they may be), meditation's fine tuning of our thoughts and feelings naturally clears out whatever emotional "must bum-rush the kitchen" clutter we may have built up over the years.
This transformation opens the door to better food decisions 24/7/365.
Study: Mindful Eaters Lose 633% More Weight
A recent North Carolina State University study (Dunn et al) examined 80 people who were taught mindful eating. What did they find?
A jaw-dropping result, after only 15 weeks, the newly minted mindful eaters lost 633% (!) more weight than the control group, while keeping it off when re-assessed six months down the road.
Instead of mindlessly shoveling food down the hatch (yes, we all do this to a degree), meditation transforms us into a mindful inner expert.
Whether it’s our recurring thought patterns, deep seated emotions, subconscious programming, or else, meditation helps us purge our chronic overeating demons.
Eating when our cells actually require sustenance is so much more enjoyable and fulfilling than mindless overeating. Mindfulness opens the door to this higher awareness.