If you are struggling with eating disorders or substance abuse, chances are the relationship you have with food and eating isn’t the healthiest. Substance abuse can cause significant problems with appetite, leading to malnutrition or vitamin deficiencies, while mental health disorders can cause habits like overeating. Eating disorders can result in unhealthy practices like binging and purging.

In all of these situations, it’s important to utilize the practice of mindful eating in recovery to reap the many mindful eating benefits at your disposal.

What is Mindful Eating?

Mindful eating refers to an element of mindfulness in which you take the time to be fully present in all of the sensory experiences involved in your meals. This type of mindful meditation keeps you grounded in all of the elements of your food so that you can avoid emotional overeating or anxiety eating, which is when you eat too quickly and make yourself ill.

In some situations, mindful eating can be considered a form of eating meditation. Eating meditation relies on a concerted effort on your part to focus on several elements of your meal while you are enjoying it, such as:

  • What the foods look like
  • Where they came from
  • Gratitude for the people who grew/harvested/prepared your food
  • What the food feels like in your hand or in your mouth
  • What the food smells like
  • The feel of your mouth as you chew the food or swallow it

This process is a great way to alter your perception of food and change unhealthy relationships you might have with food, like purging, binging, or starvation.

The mindfulness aspect of eating forces you to slow down, remain focused on the present, and appreciate the value of your food.

Who Can Use Mindful Eating?

Mindful eating benefits can be enjoyed by anyone in recovery, whether you are struggling with an eating disorder, anxiety disorder, or substance abuse. 

Benefits of Mindful Eating

As part of our women’s eating disorder programs in Santa Barbara, we focus on mindful eating habits. Explore the benefits of mindful eating and discover tips on how to incorporate this practice in your daily life.

Focusing on the Present

One of the biggest benefits of mindful eating is the ability to focus on the present moment. Too often, when people eat, they are focused on other things, such as upcoming meetings or other personal matters. This makes it easy to overeat or binge or eat things that are unhealthy for you. To start practicing mindful eating, have your meals in a space that is free from electronics and other distractions. Too often, when people struggle with eating disorders in recovery, they sit in front of the television, scroll on their phones, or work at the computer while they are eating. Sitting in a space that is free from these distractions will help you focus exclusively on your meal.

Managing Portions

Another of the benefits of mindful eating is the ability to manage your portions. When you are not focused on mindful consumption, you are more likely to eat an excessive amount of food or more calories than you need. This is because you don’t focus on the sensations you are feeling, such as hunger or fullness. You’re focused instead on something like a television program, the anxiety you might have, or your to-do list. Start with smaller portions on a smaller bowl or plate. Use small salad plates instead of large dinner plates and fill them. When you sit in your distraction-free zone for your meal, try to eat thoughtfully so that your meal takes more than two minutes. 

Getting the Right Nutrients

Mindful eating means you are more aware of what you eat, the amount of effort it takes to cook that food, and how healthy something might be. You also have a chance to be more aware of how you feel after eating certain foods, such as recognizing what foods leave you feeling energized and what foods leave you feeling groggy. Being mindful of how you feel can help you not only choose healthier foods but also consume an amount of food that makes you feel better.

Mindful Eating with Casa Serena

Mindful eating is a way for you to remain focused in the present and be aware and appreciative of all of the sensations involved in each meal you enjoy. Doing so during recovery can provide several benefits, including a greater appreciation for your food and a changed relationship with nutrition. At Casa Serena, the premier women’s drug and alcohol rehab in Santa Barbara, we offer eating disorder treatment programs that aim to promote whole-person healing. Our programs include specialized treatment for anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.Contact our team today to learn more about how our women’s mental health treatment center in California can help you find healing and happiness.

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