Intuitive eating is defined as “a nutrition philosophy based on the premise that becoming more attuned to the body’s natural hunger signals is a more effective way to attain a healthy weight, rather than keeping track of the amounts of energy and fats in food” (Intuitive Eating Workbook, Tribole and Resch). While this is an excellent long-term goal for an individual working through eating disorder recovery, it is an unrealistic short-term expectation. By learning mindfulness techniques around eating that include hunger / fullness awareness and attention to taste and texture, individuals with eating disorders can practice conscious eating. Conscious eating can be achieved by combining a medically-indicated meal plan with mindful eating practices to achieve a healthier approach to self-nourishment.
A very useful tool in eating disorder recovery is learning to shift the mind away from operating on a predetermined set of rules that dictate food choice to instead connect with what the body is asking for. The following mindfulness tips help accomplish just that through grounding techniques and the prioritization of thoughts, feelings and experiences that support recovery-oriented choices.
- Set the table for yourself, even if you’re eating alone.
- Remember your meal experience is unique- let go of comparison.
- Choose a mealtime mantra to repeat when you get distracted.
- Try a meal outside- see how many distinct sounds you can notice.
- Find a quote that reminds you what you’re recovering towards. Print the image and place it somewhere you can see.
- Take note of your hunger / fullness level before, during and after your meal
- Set an intention for your meal
- Practice breathing exercises to help you stay grounded before, during and after meals
- Express gratitude, happiness and / or blessings
- After each meal, reflect on challenges and successes