Mind Over Matter
Have you ever sat down on the couch, in front of the tv, with a bag of chips and suddenly look down to find the entire bag gone and you have no idea how it happened? If so, then you probably understand what it means to “eat mindlessly”. A lot of research has been done in the area of mindful eating to teach people how to turn it around. The term, mindfulness, was first coined at the end of the 1800’s by Buddhist scholar T. W. Rhys Davids but made popular in the 80’s and 90’s by scientist, writer and meditation teacher, Joh Kabat Zinn. Zinn defines mindfulness as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally”. This awareness can be applied to identifying antecedent triggers for problem eating, altering the eating behavior itself as well as addressing some of the negative feelings toward yourself when challenging eating behaviors have taken place. One of the popular tools used is the hunger scale. There are many reasons for eating, many of which have nothing to do with hunger or the true physiological need for fuel. However, when you take the time to deliberately check in with yourself and determine where on a scale from 1-10 your hunger resides, (1=no hunger at all and 10=starving) you can start learning when you are eating because your body needs fuel versus other reasons like boredom or fatigue. Another helpful tool developed by Dr. Jean Kristellar, Ph.D., psychologist, who created the MB-EAT program (Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training), is the mini-meditation. This is essentially a brief meditation lasting 1-2 minutes before each meal to center yourself and prime your mind for paying closer attention to your eating. These tools have been proven over time to decrease binge/problem eating, increase self-worth and self acceptance and lead to weight loss. Medimorphosis will be piloting its first course in mindful eating this fall. Stay tuned for information regarding follow up courses coming soon. It’s truly a game-changer.