by Kate Ruley
Mindfulness has gained quite a bit of attention in recent months, and for good reason. Our society is becoming so fast-paced that we are not always engaged with our immediate surroundings and activities. The mindfulness movement encourages us to take a step back and make the state of being mindful more of a regular habit, rather than constantly multitasking or juggling several activities at one time.
Nowhere is this more apparent than with our eating. Have you ever watched a child eat? They have a precious innate ability to listen to their body’s cues for things like fullness, taste and hunger that many of us lose as adults. Children are natural intuitive eaters. Ellyn Satter, a well-known researcher, author, dietitian, and family therapist is an expert in feeding and eating. According to Satter, “Eating Competence is being positive, comfortable, and flexible with eating as well as matter-of-fact and reliable about getting enough to eat of enjoyable food. Even though they don’t worry about what and how much to eat, competent eaters do better nutritionally, are more active, sleep better, and have better medical tests. They are more self-aware and self-accepting, not only with food, but in all ways. To be a competent eater, be relaxed, self-trusting, and joyful about eating, and take good care of yourself with food.”
Satter goes on to describe a basic framework for eating naturally:
Feed yourself faithfully. Reassure yourself you will be fed. Structure is the supportive framework for taking care of yourself with food.
Give yourself permission to eat. Reassure yourself: “It’s all right to eat. I just need to sit down and enjoy.”
Notice as you learn and grow. Becoming a competent eater is a process, and it takes time. As you combine structure with giving yourself permission to eat, you will find your eating falling into place.
Eating in this mindful manner not only improves our overall wellbeing it frees us to develop a positive relationship with food, one based on nourishment and love. By doing so we can enjoy eating in a much deeper more meaningful way allowing us to reap the physical and emotional benefits of the foods we enjoy.