Mindful Eating?

Have you ever told yourself “okay just one chip” and then minutes later you find yourself nearing the bottom of the chip bag? This phenomenon of “pigging out” has gotten the best of us all, whether it's a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Tonight Dough Ice Cream or a box of Krispy Kreme donuts. Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to indulge occasionally and comfort food can sometimes be the perfect broken-heart remedy, but mindless eating can start to happen way too often and hurt our healthy-eating efforts, leaving us feeling guilty.

holding popcorn, popcorn bag, snacks, eating popcorn, popcorn, fish, snack
Jocelyn Hsu

The Good News

There's a new method that is proven to help stop us from "pigging out" and may even improve body image and weight loss. It’s called mindful eating: the ability to engage your mind, heart, and body while eating. This means listening to your body when it’s full, making healthier food choices, paying more attention to the smell, look, and taste of your food, and engaging your emotions during the eating process.

To break it down even further, I will give you an example. Let’s say you are going to eat an orange. First you want to listen to your body to determine whether you are hungry or not. If the answer is yes, you are hungry, then take the orange and look at its shape and appreciate where it came from. Then begin to peel the orange. As you do so start to engage your senses by smelling and feeling the orange. Lastly, begin to eat the orange slowly, appreciating its taste and considering how much you are eating. Afterwards, examine how you feel and ask yourself: Am I still hungry? Did I enjoy eating the orange? This process may seem unnecessarily long, but the more you mindfully eat, the easier and more habitual the process becomes. And the more you will enjoy the food you are eating, no matter what it is.

Take it from Dr. Susan Albers, an expert on the subject of mindful eating and “how to improve your relationship with food.” One of her profound observations states, “Mindful eaters don’t eat until they are full, rather till they are no longer hungry. Mindful eaters pace themselves and mindful eaters are choosy about the foods they eat.” This is just an example of her many opinions, which can all be found in Albers' books centered around healthier and more mindful eating. She also notes the many health benefits that come with mindful eating, including weight loss, confidence in body image, and emotional well-being. Taking this one simple step towards mindful eating can help improve your lifestyle and ultimately empower you to make better eating choices.

Mindful Eating Programs 

Many college campuses are supporting mindful eating efforts. As a college student, I realize how hard it can be to be mindful while you eat. Sometimes you loose track of what you are eating and can't resist temptations in the form of cookies or ice cream. Luckily, many universities are starting mindful eating initiatives.

At Villanova University, we have the Office of Health Promotion, which runs a peer educator group called POWER. POWER is dedicated to working with students to help them make healthier choices in all facets of their lives. They plan and participate in health awareness campaigns and events on campus to provide students with healthy suggestions for dealing with various scenarios. Some of these events and campaigns include their Where is the LOVE? Campaign, Safe Spring Break Week, their Food for Thought mindful eating dinner, and Stress-Free Healthy Happy Hour. Programs like POWER are more common at universities all over the country, so find or start one on your campus to get involved with.

cutie, tangerine, clif bar, studying, snacks, study snack, textbook, notes
Jocelyn Hsu

Will You Give it a Try?

If I haven’t sold you yet on mindful eating, maybe the next time you have the “munchies” and find yourself finishing that bag of chips you will think about giving mindful eating a shot. Trust me, it can really improve the way you think about and eat food. Mindful eating can go as far as to help repair disordered relationships with food and make you feel like the best version of yourself. Better yet, mindfulness can be employed in other areas of your life to improve those too. What's not to love about all of that?