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Mindful eating

Many people suffer with a disordered relationship to food and eating, and the essential act of nourishing one’s body can cause distress, guilt and sadness.  Whilst these individuals are not necessarily diagnosed with an eating disorder, there are a growing number of people who suffer on a daily basis with disordered eating thoughts and behaviours. 

For people with disordered eating patterns, a key step in moving towards developing a happy relationship with food is to practice mindful eating and developing awareness in the body of how hunger arises.  You may be surprised to read that there are actually seven different types of hunger.  These are: eye hunger, nose hunger, mouth hunger, stomach hunger, cellular hunger, mind hunger and heart hunger.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be addressing each of these types of hunger in more detail and exploring how they arise and how we can satisfy them.

There is a Zen saying ‘When hungry, just eat’.  Whilst it sounds simple and obvious, unfortunately it’s not.  Children know instinctively what, when and how much they should be eating, but as we get older, eating is no longer just about re-fueling.  Instead, food can begin to serve many other purposes.  It can be used to sooth, distract, numb, entertain, reward or even to punish.  Therefore, the once straightforward relationship between hunger and eating and satisfaction becomes mixed up in an array of thoughts and emotions.  By developing an awareness of mindful eating and the seven types of hunger, it’s possible to learn how to start going back to having a happy relationship with food.

To start the journey of mindful eating, try observing these steps:

  1. Always sit down when eating (even for snacks).
  2. Engage the senses with the food that’s being eaten.  Look at it, smell it and taste it.  This means that your attention needs to be focused on eating and not distracted by the TV, computer, phone etc.
  3. Eat slowly and chew your food well.  Follow the principle of eastern traditions that solid food should become liquid before swallowing and liquids should be chewed.
  4. Don’t worry about leaving food on your plate.  Listen to your body and stop eating when your body has had enough.

Eating in this way is being respectful to your body and engages the body and mind in the process.

If you suffer with disordered eating patterns, or have any questions then please do give us a call and we would be more than happy to help you at one of our London nutrition clinics.

Julia

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