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It’s not super easy to recognize when you are eating compulsively. Sometimes we get so entrenched in our habits and our lives that we just forget about taking time to really nurture ourselves.  Food and eating becomes habitual, mindless, and unhealthy. Of course it’s normal that you are not going to be eating mindfully all the time, sometimes life dictates that we have to eat in the car, or we have to get takeout or use the microwave. However, if you find that in your life you are mostly doing compulsive or mindless eating, it might be time to look closer at that and try to make a change toward mindful eating.

courtesy of eatingmindfully.com

courtesy of eatingmindfully.com

 

1. When you are eating  compulsively you: Scarf your food down quickly and without thought and without noticing what you just ate.

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Eat slowly noticing the tastes and textures of your food and take note of the way it feels in your body. You also notice what your body feels like and how much you actually need.

 

2. When you are eating  compulsively you: Eat while you are driving.

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Do your best to create time and a break for yourself to sit and eat your food.

 

 

3. When you are eating  compulsively you:  Eat in front of the TV, eat in front of your open laptop, or eat while staring and thumbing through your iPhone.

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Are paying attention to your food, your thoughts, your feelings, and taking time to savor the moments of peacefulness and quietude that you have to yourself or on pleasant conversation with another human being.

4.When you are eating  compulsively you: Heat up your food in the microwave.        

 When you are practicing mindful eating you: Take time to cook or heat up your food in the oven or on the stove.

5. When you are eating  compulsively you: Grab take-out or fast food most of the time

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Take time to shop for and cook with fresh or seasonal ingredients.

6. When you are eating compulsively you:  Automatically get food whether you actually want it or not out of habit

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Assess whether or not  you are hungry and whether you actually want the food that you are going for rather than eating it out of habit (like grabbing popcorn at the movies).

7. When you are eating compulsively you: Eat until you are uncomfortably full

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Pay attention to your body and stop eating when you are comfortable, satisfied, and before you are full.

8. When you are eating compulsively you: Often eat food that is devoid of nutrition

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Eat food that is nurturing to your body and contributing to your overall health

9. When you are eating compulsively you: Often didn’t even notice that you ate something and then find that you’ve devoured the whole thing and you’re sitting with an empty plate, you wonder, “did I just eat that? I barely noticed.”

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Focus on the intention of eating and notice how much you are eating, how quickly you are eating and  figure out if you’d like to slow down or not, you think about whether or not you are enjoying the meal.

10. When you are eating compulsively you: Munch on snacks that are set out in bowls in front of you just because they are in front of you, such as pretzels, M&Ms, peanuts, hard candies, whatever…

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Think about whether or not you’d like to be eating what’s in those bowls, whether or not you are hungry for these things or if you want to eat these things or not.  If you don’t want to eat those foods and you are finding that you are feeling too impulsive when they are in front of you, you either move to bowl or move away from the bowl.

To start out with a mindful eating practice, just set one intention before a meal. That intention can be anything, such as “I’m going to let myself taste my food and experience it more fully,” or “I’m going to eat slowly,” or “I’m going to notice my hunger and satiety in this meal.”  Maybe at your next meal you will set a different intention. Just try it once and see how it goes for you. Once you become mindful and conscious of your eating, things totally change. Food no longer has a hold over you because you have brought consciousness to what was once a compulsive or unconscious behavior.

You might additionally check out:

Guided Visualization for Integrating Mindful Eating

The Center for Mindful Eating

Dr. Susan Albers Blog (Psychologist specializing in treating eating disorders using mindfulness)

Mindful Eating as a Way to Fight Bingeing

 

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Most recent quote from community member: "Unbelievable progress. I had a slice of cake, wasn't that fussed about it and moved on. Cake is just cake! I never thought I'd get to this place. I keep thinking back to an earlier meditation when all the negative energy left down through my feet. That was really powerful. I'm planning to play it again. I've also drawn up a weekly meal plan of healthy balanced meals. This just helps to give me a bit of guidance and planning and eliminates any need for impulsive decisions when I often feel stressed after work. Amazing, thank you so much. I always hoped for hope, but n ow I feel like I'm living hope! I'm so grateful Leora. Thank you."
  • Leora, thank you for your thoughts on mindful eating. For those who are interested in learning to eat mindfully, the free (donation optional) download version of The Mindfulness Diet, an easy-to-understand, self-paced, customizable mindful eating program (includes Mindful Eating Coach™ app) is available at http://www.MindfulnessDiet.com. The program is fully and completely free by (optional) donation…no fine print.

    • Leora Fulvio

      Doug, thank you for your comment and for the link to your site. How wonderful that you offer this amazing program.

  • Jim

    This is a really interesting post, thank you. I think compulsive eating is a big issue and a majority of people do it. Some compulsive eating has become normal, as you stated, like grabbing a box of popcorn or sweets at the movies, whether you actually want them or not. It’s also shocking how many families and individuals eat in front of the TV at meal times. When you eat in front of the TV or your laptop, you tend not to notice what you are eating and you eat much faster, as you are focused on what you are watching, meaning you often eat more than you actually want or need. People often clear their plates without realising it.