Introduction to Mindful Eating
When was the last time you ate something quickly? Did you feel a little indigestion or even bloating afterwards? Did you stop to wonder if you’d even chewed your food? What did it even taste like?
We call this ‘mindless eating’ and unfortunately, these experiences are all too common as our lives become busier and more demanding.
Take a moment to reflect on a time when you may have eaten mindlessly. This often happens when your brain is on autopilot, for example, as you quickly scoff your own breakfast while you finished packing school lunches or as you throw down lunch in the short time between meetings, sitting at your desk, staring at your computer screen.
Mindless eating can have negative consequences for us in a number of ways and in this IGA Family Program module, we’ll explore how you can adopt a more mindful approach to eating for both yourself and your family.
As we unpacked for you in the previous IGA Family Program module, mindfulness can be explored both formally and informally.
Through the Smiling Mind app, we have a number of formal mindfulness meditations for Adults and Children which will allow you and your family to explore food through your senses, inviting you to see, smell, hear, feel, and taste food in new and novel ways. You’ll also be asked to observe how the body responds to food, which is an important part of mindful eating.
Mindful Eating meditation
Listen to the activity below.
Why mindful eating?
There are a number of serious health consequences related to food consumption in today’s society which makes taking a more mindful approach to eating even more important.
Obesity is on the rise with close to 11.2 million Australians, including one in four children aged 5-17 years, who are either overweight or obese. Approximately 280 Australians develop diabetes every day and eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia are estimated to affect approx. 9% of our population*
Eating is an automatic behaviour. We do it anywhere from 3-8 times a day, and each moment is an opportunity to be more aware. One of the best ways to practice informal mindfulness for you and your family in the home is through connecting with food through our senses.
Practicing mindful eating actually trains us to be more mindful in our lives generally, and this can lead to stress reduction and increased wellbeing. If we slow down when we eat, we can slow down in life and interact with our colleagues or family differently.
Our thoughts and emotions can cloud our awareness and distort our relationship with food. That’s what we can unravel through mindful eating.
Here’s a short ‘taster’ to get you started on your mindful eating journey, using a raisin or a fresh piece of fruit (with no rind):
Remember, an important part of practicing mindfulness with your children is debriefing each experience or activity to normalise any physical or emotional reactions they may have had. Here’s a few questions that might help from the activity.
*The core objective of the IGA Family Program Mindful Matters and Smiling Mind is to teach you and your family a life skill; one that will help to manage stress, increase awareness of negative emotional states, improve attention and focus, and help prevent mental health issues in later life.