Science, Curiosity, and Mindful Eating
Does science relate to mindful eating? It may seem like an odd question, and the immediate response for many people might be “no.” But I think the answer is “yes,” and one of the biggest areas of overlap is having an attitude of curiosity.
I started thinking about this when writing a speech for the March for Science held the day before this post’s publication – Earth Day, April 22, 2017.
One area of focus for my speech was curiosity, as an aspect of science that anyone can benefit from. When I started looking around online, the importance of this came through loud and clear.
For instance, according to the website ScienceCouncil.org: “All scientists are united by their relentless curiosity and systematic approach of assuaging it.”
And the March for Science includes this in its mission statement: “At its core, science is a tool for seeking answers.”
I therefore found it quite interesting to listen to a webinar presented on April 20 by Rebecca Johnson from the Am I Hungry?â (AIH) Mindful Eating program. The webinar was about how we can take lessons from science and apply them to wellbeing. This includes putting mindfulness into action by observing our experiences with curiosity and non-judgment.
To tie this even more specifically to mindful eating, in the AIH approach, when people feel like eating, we encourage them to ask, “Why?” That question is also at the heart of science.
I started wondering what holds people back from asking that question and being curious in general. I found one answer in an interview with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson where he talked about how as adults we’re discouraged from curiosity because it can lead to messy experiments, and sometimes things might get broken. Those are often consequences that people don’t always like.
I think the same fear can sometimes hold us back from a mindful eating approach. Because it can be messy to delve into the answers to that seemingly simple question of why we want to eat. It might challenge us to reexamine how we lead our lives, and the types of relationships we have – and sometimes those might break, or significantly change.
I can understand, then, the impulse to stay in the dark, not go deeper. But one of the wonderful things about being curious is that it helps us take courage and move past our fear.
If I can follow the mindfulness practice of observing with curiosity, and without judgment, I can take a step back from the immediate emotional reaction of fear and simply wonder, “Why is that? How can I find out?”
This also makes me much more open to what I find, and once I know the answer, I can decide how I want to respond, in a conscious, thoughtful way. Even better, this type of approach can be useful in all areas of our lives.
And so in honor of science, curiosity, and fostering wellbeing, I wish you happy questioning!