We’ve been working with a lot of clients lately on developing a healthy relationship with food. This looks different for each individual’s unique situation, but boils down to mindful eating. Which leads us to the big question: what is mindful eating?
Mindful eating, as the name implies, involves paying conscious attention to what you’re consuming and also noticing the motivation behind eating. Another imperative aspect of mindful eating is that this is done in a nonjudgmental way. Overall, the goal is to be able to listen to your body for hunger cues, recognize when your body is asking for food, and meeting that need while remaining gentle and loving towards yourself.
In order to best follow your body’s cues and identify your true motivation for eating, it may help to have some insight into the biological and emotional factors that can lead to mindless eating.
Biological Related Trigger
Stress causes your body to produce cortisol, which you may have heard referred to the as the “Flight or Fight” hormone. Cortisol can cause you to crave high sugar foods.
Ways to Combat It: All carbohydrates prompt the brain to make more serotonin, a calming brain chemical. Snack on carbs like whole grains, fruits and vegetables to feel full longer and stabilize blood sugar levels. This may help to prevent cravings.
Emotional Related Triggers
Distraction: eating can be a distracting activity to take your attention away from what is really bothering you.
Ways to Combat It: Identify your stress triggers and develop a stress-beating plan.
Dealing with boredom and anxiety can lead you to seek out social eating situations for temporary entertainment.
Ways to Combat It: Do activities like reading, playing games, getting active, spending time with friends, volunteering or crafting projects instead.
Childhood associations with comfort foods and rewards may draw you to your favorite treats and snacks.
Ways to Combat It: Be a kid! Color a picture, spend time with your children (if you have them), blow bubbles, or get outside for a walk to relieve your grownup woes.