What is Mindfulness? 

Each person in the world makes countless decisions every hour of every day and many of those decisions take place on autopilot.  Many people identify with the phrase “running on auto pilot”. With busy lives and to-do lists it’s understandable how this happens. Disconnection naturally increases as distraction does. In some cases there may even be a conscious effort to avoid paying attention to certain things (to “push through it” or “deal with it later”). Life can be spent mostly in the past or drifting into the near or distant future. This is a common human experience, but the question remains do people notice when they are doing this?

There are varying definitions of mindfulness depending on the dictionary, the expert or the organization through which the definition is explored. Jon Kabat-Zinn (the founder of mindfulness-based stress reduction) defines it as this- “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”.  In general most definitions focus in on the importance of paying attention to the present moment and often specifically mention to do so without judgment. 


Eating Mindfully 

Bringing mindfulness into the experience of eating creates a very different experience to being on autopilot, distracted or rushing through. The Center for Mindful Eating is a nonprofit international organization aimed to help people achieve a balanced, respectful, healthy and joyful relationship with food and eating. They define mindful eating as the following: 

  • “Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom.
  • Using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body.
  • Acknowledging responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral) without judgment.
  • Becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating.”

There is a whole lot more going on in the experience of eating when approached mindfully but it’s not realistic to expect to eat in this way all the time. 


So what is Intuitive Eating Then?

There are ten basic principles that help to bring people back in tune with their own bodies. They explore their relationship with food both physically and emotionally. They explore the impact of diet culture on their lives, the pleasure aspect of eating, body respect as well as movement and nourishment. Most notably intuitive eating rejects dieting and respects honors the individual’s own preferences and body’s signals. 

The 10 principles of intuitive eating were laid out by Evelyn Tribole  MS, RDN, CEDRD-S and Elyse Resch MS, RDN, CEDRD-S, FIAEDP, FADA, FAND (the originators of the book Intuitive Eating). Intuitive eating includes principles of mindful eating but adds additional layers.  

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality
  2. Honor Your Hunger
  3. Make Peace with Food
  4. Challenge the Food Police
  5. Respect Your Fullness
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
  8. Respect Your Body
  9. Exercise-Feel the Difference
  10. Honor Your Health

Mindful eating and intuitive eating are both ways to reconnect with the body, respect it and engage in eating with awareness and lack of judgment. Places to go to learn more about how both include https://thecenterformindfuleating.org for mindfulness and mindful eating specifically and https://www.intuitiveeating.org for intuitive eating.

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