I’ve recently been working on educational modules to help me to eventually become a certified member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. One of these modules focused on the concept of mindfulness. What is mindfulness? Definitions vary slightly, but essentially convey the same concept. Mindfulness is simply a mental state of being aware and completely focused on the present moment. Most of us have busy lives, with every minute of the day being occupied by some aspect of work, family, television, or social media. Because of this, we often forget to live in the present.

A particular aspect of mindfulness that caught my attention was mindful eating. Because of my interest in “food as medicine”, I found this concept especially intriguing. It brought to light to concept that not only are the foods we eat potentially toxic, but also how we eat them. Many of us are habitual in our eating patterns. We eat at certain times of the day without considering whether or not we’re really even hungry. We eat an entire to plate of food without considering whether we’ve become full. We eat meals while watching television or working on the computer, not ever pausing to enjoy the taste or texture of our food. All of these habits reflect unhealthy eating patterns, and contribute to the toxic food epidemic worldwide.

Mindful eating is the concept of focusing on signals of hunger and satiety (when we feel full) as well as the taste, smell, and texture of every bite of food. By being more attentive to these details, not only will we enjoy our food more, but we will eat more wisely and intentionally. Below is a great chart which summarizes simple ways to practice more mindful eating.

There is a great paper published by the University of Wisconsin Integrative Medicine/Department of Family Medicine that succinctly explores methods to help us all eat more mindfully. If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness, and mindful eating in particular, check out the link below.