Making Mindful Eating Work for Your Exercise Routine
In 2014, Your Marketing Explorer founder Jeremy Bromwell suffered a motorcycle accident that left him sidelined for more than two years. According to NBC News, this derailed Bromwell’s previous commitment to maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise, which allowed him to eat to his heart’s content when in restaurants. After he healed, his attitude towards food worsened, and he gained 60 pounds in the process.
It was only after Bromwell found mindful eating that he regained control of how he ate and found the strength to recommit himself to regular exercise. This desire to get back to, or start, a healthy relationship with food is something many people are looking to do.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is not a diet. It’s a way of applying mindfulness principles to how you eat. Just as practicing mindfulness entails full awareness of your thoughts and feelings during meditation, so does mindful eating entail the same — before, during, and after food consumption.
The practice can benefit your exercise routine in a number of ways as well as help you to be more consistent in terms of setting and achieving fitness goals.
How Do You Practice Mindful Eating?
Starting your personal mindful eating practice can be as simple as eating slowly and taking the time to appreciate what you eat, which has been found to be highly effective at reducing instances of binge eating. “After they binge, people who struggle with the problem usually feel the only tool they have to stop it is to double-down on their dieting efforts. Dieting is actually the main cause of binge eating, so it just makes the behavior worse, and they get caught in an ongoing diet-binge cycle,” details clinical health psychologist Howard Farkas. “When I explain this cause-and-effect relationship to my patients, they come to understand that it’s only their belief that they have to diet that’s making them feel controlled. If they can get beyond that belief, the revolution is over and they can stop fighting.”
Dieting Versus Mindful Eating
Therein lies the difference between mindful eating and simple dieting. Instead of simply telling you what not to eat, mindful eating aims to improve the role of food in your life. Rather than just restricting your daily food intake, mindful eating entails taking your time with each bite, involving all your senses — how the food looks, tastes, smells, and feels — and analyzing how these sensations affect your emotions and dietary habits. This includes your pre and post-meal reactions, whether mental or physical, including how certain food affects your energy levels and actual physical performance during exercise.
This is exactly what we meant when Livia explained how listening to your body can greatly improve your relationship with food. In this way, mindful eating seeks to provide an antidote to the mindless eating practices that have led so many Americans down the path of obesity, greater risks of disease, and even mental health problems.
How Mindful Eating Benefits Exercise
Rather than seeing diets as restrictions, mindful eating can allow you to see them for what they are: healthy eating road maps. Mindful eating is not supposed to replace diets, but rather to supplement them with the full awareness of how anything you put into your body affects not just your physical performance, but your mental health as well.
In fact, Parsley Health’s Robin Berzin notes that exercising paired with good food can even help you get rid of heavy, tired, and toxic feelings. She also explains that her clinical practice recommends a diet that’s heavy on plants, alongside committing to at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. Through mindful eating, it can become easier to make such commitments. And just as meditation strengthens the mind’s focus for certain tasks, so can mindful eating strengthen one’s ability to commit to both a healthy relationship with food and regular exercise.
By Bea Kaye — Article exclusively written for youate.com