You’ve probably heard of mindful eating. It’s a very popular concept now that keeps people who want to look and feel their best engaged.
What Is Mindful Eating?
So, what is mindful eating? By definition, in this article on Harvard’s website it is:
“In essence, mindful eating means being fully attentive to your food — as you buy, prepare, serve, and consume it. However, adopting the practice may take more than a few adjustments in the way you approach meals and snacks”
More and more people think of ‘mindful eating’ as the solution to eliminating their food habits and anxiety about eating. However, BE CAREFUL about it if you are already struggling with a stressful and obsessive relationship with food.
Born and raised in Asia, I have the strong feeling that the definition of ‘mindful eating’ is to a large degree mistranslated in the west. And the tenet of “being attentive to food” will not help you much because you are already very attentive to it — in fact, way too attentive most likely, which is where the stress comes from.
Therefore, my perspective about ‘mindful eating’ is very different from what the mainstream says. But after helping people accomplish real results in fixing their relationships with food, I know what I’m going to tell you is true:
What you really want to learn, instead of mindful eating, is MINDLESS eating.
This clarification matters so much because if you set the GPS to the wrong destination, you get on the wrong journey — and in this context, the wrong changes (or no changes).
Although ‘mindful eating’ sounds much more flexible than dieting, the focus is still food. And since you’ve already developed a whole pattern of negativities around the topic of food and eating, such intense focus on food only brings more battles than bliss to you until that pattern is resolved.
Let me give you a more clear truth:
A healthy, free, confident intuitive eater, the person you’d like to become one day, isn’t mindful of food or the activity of eating in most cases. In fact, he doesn’t even feel the need to pay that kind of attention mostly. It’s like you don’t think about your feet and when walking or count your breath when breathing because these are both INSTINCTS.
By “mindless eating,” I’m referring to the carefree state of NOT being consciously aware of the food, analyzing how you eat it, and measuring how you feel about the food while intuitively eating right. There’s no deliberate thought processes going on because this, too, is an INSTINCT. And you know it’s an instinct because didn’t you experience that kind of ease a long time ago, perhaps your early childhood, before your weight gain and yo-yo dieting life started? Babies and toddlers know when to stop eating naturally.
So ‘instinct’ is really the core distinction here.
And a lot of time, whether that instinct is active explains why some people can eat whatever they want and effortlessly stay a size 6…while some others work very hard to lose the weight but still weigh 200 pounds after being on 16 diets in 16 years, spending 50 hours in the gym every month, and earning a PHD in calorie counting.
It’s not the diet or the food because these dieters can be even more cautious and picky on food. It’s the instinct that makes all the difference.
“But if I eat mindlessly and don’t watch food closely, I’ll overeat!”
I hear that, but you only overeat because other important instincts are off — for example: the instinct of feeling satisfied and knowing when to stop. In fact, this is a core component of mindless eating.
Next time, observe the healthy, lean people who never diet. You’ll see they freely eat whatever they want while fully engaged in a conversation with someone. They may eat some of every dish served. However, they don’t eat more than they need overall because they intuitively know when to stop.
THAT’s the kind of eating experience you want to have for life. It’ll make things a lot easier for you. Full confidence. No more restrictions. No more overthinking.
And when you achieve the mindless eating state with your instinct fully turned on, you’ll find yourself no longer finishing plates. You’ll sit in a restaurant surrounded by high-calorie food but because your body picks up your sense of satisfaction fast, you’d rather be passionately talking to others than putting food into your mouth. Every extra bite will feel burdensome. And junk food will automatically be less favored because even your taste buds evolve.
It’d be delicious to see yourself no longer catching thoughts around food. Your body’s natural senses now take over, moving and pausing your hands as needed without your mind getting in the way. And you just enjoy people, scenery, or something special in your mind without judgement or overthinking about food.
“How come I don’t have instincts working for me now?”
There are multiple instincts working together to help you eat mindlessly, and the key ones include:
- How you emotionally feel, mentally process, physically sense, and subconsciously react to food, and
- How your body absorbs nutrients, digests food, distributes energy, and burns calories.
A part of these instincts are physical as you can tell, and a part of them is psychological. When they work, being healthy, fit, and confident with food is easy. When they don’t work, no diets or techniques can help you the way you need.
Real transformation is really about reactivating these instincts.
Well, you didn’t lose the instincts. They are really just in a suppressed and latent mode because for a long time, you’ve been using diets and numbers to dictate how you eat, think, feel, absorb, digest, and use energy.
For years, you’ve retrained your brain to ‘write off’ your natural needs and senses so that you could follow numbers and be strict on implementing rules.
Your brain is very adaptive and it works hard to satisfy your needs! When your major need is to be a good dieter, it supports that by suppressing your instincts for satisfaction even more and forming a dieter’s mindset and neurological pattern within you, which causes all the physical consequences.
Therefore, to really solve the problem, you need to re-write the commands to your brain and reactivate those latent instincts.
I’ve given multiple free masterclasses and posts that elaborates how real transformation happens and action steps in detail. You may want to check out The Ultimate Guide To Stop Emotional Eating Forever, The 5 Shifts To Anxiety-Free Eating While Gaining A Head-Turning Body, or How To Have A Healthy Relationship With Food to find out more.
The GREAT NEWS is: since most of these instincts are trained physical and psychological patterns, the solution is simple. And when done right, you can master mindless eating in 6-10 weeks.
Leslie Chen helps high-achieving men and women build a healthy, blissful relationship with food, regain freedom and confidence in eating, detach their minds from food related obsessions, and connect with their natural instincts better so that they can lose weight sustainably through unlocking the body’s natural power. Leslie has appeared on US News & World Report and Yahoo News as a health coach. Click here to schedule a free personalized 1:1 assessment.