The Full Mind Weigh® to Lifelong Weight Management, a program of the Institute for Lifelong Weight Management – teaching you the skills you need to keep the weight off forever!
1. What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is basically doing one thing at a time, in the present moment, with our full attention. Mindfulness is also about being aware of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
Here’s an example. Have you ever had the experience, maybe when you were on vacation, of being in a really beautiful place, maybe out in the countryside or out on the ocean, where you were so mesmerized by what you were seeing that you were completely focused on that and nothing else? Perhaps you were not just enjoying the beauty of the view, but also feeling the breeze on your skin, and hearing the sounds of nature all around you. Can you recall anything like that? That’s an example of being mindful to the present moment. Or when you smell a delicious aroma and you really savor it, whether it’s a food, a flower, a scented candle, or a perfume – for that moment of pleasure you’re simply focused on the aroma or scent and nothing else – that’s another example of mindfulness to the present moment.
When we live mindfully, we live with both intention and attention. Living with intention is about living purposely. Living with attention is about noticing or being aware.
2. What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is about simply eating, without engaging in another activity at the same time. It’s about paying attention to your food, to its colors, shapes, tastes, textures, and smells. You focus this kind of attention on each bite. It’s also about being mindful of the movements of eating – for example, the movements of our hands and arms, lips and tongue as we eat. When you eat mindfully, you taste everything you want to taste, but you notice how each food tastes. When you eat in this way, you’re satisfied with much less, than if you eat quickly while preoccupied with something else. On the other hand, mindless eating is eating food without paying adequate attention to what and how much is being eaten. When we eat mindlessly, we’re at risk for overeating, and for consuming too many of the foods that are not good for us and that lead to weight gain or weight regain.
Have you ever had this experience? Maybe when you were trying out a new restaurant or attending a special event like a wedding, and enjoying an unfamiliar dish or food. I’m thinking about the cocktail items that are frequently offered at weddings prior to the main meal – these are often delicious little concoctions that we rarely see, and so we savor them more than we do our regular meals, when we eat in a more rushed and distracted way. And because we savor them and really notice the tastes and textures of what we’re eating – also because we’re eating with our fingers and therefore aware of the tactile qualities of the food – we feel satisfied with much less food – so much so that we’re often feeling full before we even get to the main meal! Can you relate to this? Can you recall a time when you ate in a relaxed way, very focused on the sensory qualities of the food, and ended up eating less than you thought you would?
When we eat mindfully, we eat with both intention and attention. Eating with intention is about eating with the purpose of nourishing our bodies and feeling better physically. When we eat with intention we eat just enough of the healthy foods that our bodies need to operate at their best. Eating with attention is about noticing or being aware of the food that we eat, noticing the mechanics or movements of eating, and being aware of how our bodies feel before, during and after we eat. When we eat with attention we are able to be aware of our body’s hunger and satiety signals.
I’m hosting a free call on how to prevent weight regain after bariatric surgery. Please join me for this call by registering below:
Look out for my next blog post, in which I’ll describe specific mindfulness techniques for preventing weight regain after bariatric (weight-loss) surgery.
With your continued health in mind,
Doreen Lerner, Ph.D.
Director, Institute for Lifelong Weight Management
Creator, The Full Mind Weigh® to Lifelong Weight Management
The Institute for Lifelong Weight Management provides education and training. The Full Mind Weigh® is strictly an educational program and is not a substitute for medical or psychological evaluation or treatment. If you think you may be suffering from an eating disorder, please consult with a qualified mental health professional who is trained to evaluate and treat eating disorders.