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What is Mindfulness Anyways?

 

Can you enjoy a piece of chocolate without guilt? (Source: Flikr. By: Pink Sherbet Photography)

 

Since attending a seminar on mindful eating, I’ve been hooked on the concept. Not that I wasn’t aware of it before, but lately, it seems to pop up everywhere. From Brian Wansink‘s–author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think–videos and Mindless Products website, to Ellyn Satter‘s–author of several books on feeding children–Division of Responsibility, to “the great divorce of body and mind” blog post by the Fat Nutritionist, to eating chocoalate without guilt by Dr. Michelle May–author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle, I can’t help but wonder if mindfulness is the fashion in nutrition.

I think this fashion–this time around–is here to stay.

What if you practiced mindful eating on a daily basis? No need for anyone, book, diet plan, or government agency to tell you what to eat and how much because you eat when hungry and stop when full. You eat what gives you pleasure and back away from what doesn’t. You know food will always be here and there’s no point in scarfing it all down in one shot.

I vote for that.

The basic idea of mindful eating is to live in the moment; to enjoy the food for its taste and the pleasure it brings about, instead of what it will or won’t do in the future. That’s not necessarily denying that blueberries, for example, are high in anti-oxidants and help fight disease. But if eating them gives you no pleasure, then why bother? Why not find a fruit that is worth the effort, the money, and the energy you’re consuming that also satisfies your senses?

What if someone eats all the blueberries in the world and still gets diagnosed with cancer. Would he look at blueberries the same way again? Would he feel they have failed him?

What is Mindfulness?

According to the Center for Mindful Eating, “mindful eating” is:

  • Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom
  • Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor and taste
  • Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment
  • Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating

The definition is a bit dry, but there’s so much to learn and practice. I will be writing to explain each point, so keep on following.

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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Nicole, RD February 18, 2010, 4:26 pm

    Wonderful post! Wonderful (and beautiful!) blog! I love finding other RD’s to follow and learn from. Keep up the great work! I’ll be around…lots šŸ™‚

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD February 18, 2010, 5:43 pm

      Thank you Nicole. Very sweet of you! And your comments are always welcome šŸ™‚

  • Ghada Abdelmoumin February 18, 2010, 5:02 pm

    Nour, I too vote for mindful eating; eat what gives you pleasure without spoiling the moment wondering what I just ate will do. It is true most of the time that you may wear fashion that you dislike perhaps like work or school uniform :D, but it is quite unbearable to eat what you utterly distate. Thanks.

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD February 18, 2010, 5:42 pm

      Thanks Ghada for the comment. If we eat what gives us pleasure without spoiling the moment, we might be able to enjoy and savor the taste of French fries from 10 pieces rather than a whole basket–If we slow and down and make every piece count instead of taking one after the other mindlessly.

      And how many times have you ordered something at a restaurant because you thought it’s healthy, but it just didn’t give you the kick you were looking for? How many times did that take you to your kitchen when you got home because dinner didn’t do it? I’m not speaking here of you alone, of course. I know I have done that before…

      This is a learning process, even for a dietitian! I’m glad you’re enjoying the reading and I love your comments!

  • The Candid RD February 18, 2010, 10:08 pm

    I really loved this post. I like to talk about mindful and intuitive eating with my clients, and also family and friends (if they ask). I try to practice this everyday, and yes, I do eat chocolate, and do NOT feel guilty about it!

    Regarding your comment on my blog (thanks for stopping by!), if you check out the link I posted in that section about “Ways to prepare meat to protect from disease” I talk about moist heat methods. So I agree with you!

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD February 18, 2010, 10:24 pm

      Thank you Candid RD!
      I’m learning more and more about mindfulness and becoming very interested. (haha about family and friends! I too never volunteer my opinion about food unless I get asked, and still some people apologize for their foods decisions around me… what??? Am I that scary??)

      I love chocolate too. I’m learning how to be selective. To eat the types that I absolutely like, not everything that comes my way.

      Thank you for letting me know about the section on preparing meat. I’ll take a look at it.

  • Stef February 19, 2010, 10:57 pm

    just came across your blog via green grapes (congrats on winning with the muffins!) and i love it. mindful eating is what i aspire to every day, it’s odd how something that should come so naturally has to be practiced in order for it to become habit!

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD February 20, 2010, 11:30 am

      Thank you Stef for the kind words! You are very right. It’s odd that we have to make an effort to practice something that should come natural. I have a 16 months old son, and he knows when to stop. When he’s done, he’s done, no matter how much food there is on his high chair’s table. He’s more mindful that me and my husband, he looks at the food, smells it, feels it, tastes it, and then decides to eat it.
      I think we’re very overwhelmed with the abundance of too many varieties and options that we can’t keep up. And food marketers are not always on our side. Top that with busy and stressful lives, and I can see the natural behavior disappearing.

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