7 Ways that Learning Mindful Eating Will Help You
I recently listened to a fascinating episode of the podcast Brain Science, featuring an interview with David Eagleman, author of the book Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain. I enjoyed the whole episode, but one of the parts that stuck with me was the discussion of learning.
Eagleman said that one of the best ways to keep our brains active and in good health is to continue learning new things. And once you’ve gotten good at something, you need to either move up to a more complicated version or learn something new entirely to continue getting the benefits of learning.
Obstacles to learning
This sounds like good advice, but as with many things, it’s easier said than done. We all face different obstacles to learning new things, including challenges when learning how to eat mindfully. These obstacles include:
Fear of failure: this is a significant problem for many, and it stops you dead in your tracks when trying to learn something new because that inevitably involves some mistakes and failures
Low self-esteem: this goes along with the fear of failure, except in this case, you believe you don’t have what it takes to learn, so you don’t bother trying.
Unclear goals: when you don’t have any clear goals or direction in mind, it’s hard to get started with learning since you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish
Lack of time: when you have a lot going on, it can feel overwhelming to find the time needed to learn something new
Limited mental space: likewise, you might not have much extra mental space, and you can’t imagine trying to add something else to the list of everything you need to keep track of
Low energy: you may also simply not have much energy at the end of the day or on weekends to focus well enough to learn something new
As I thought about this, it occurred to me that diet mentality checks almost all these boxes as obstacles to learning mindful eating. After all, diets:
Make you feel like you’ve failed
Keep the focus on weight, which lowers your self-esteem
Make it hard for you to think about non-weight goals
Have rules that take up a lot of mental space
Contribute to restricting food, which could result in low energy
7 benefits of learning mindful eating
But if you commit to learning how to eat mindfully, you’ll see many benefits.
Gain new skills: with mindful eating, you’ll have a lot of new skills, such as being able to recognize when you’re hungry, having a good sense of when to stop eating so you won’t be overfull, and understanding what kinds of foods your body needs.
Reduce boredom: learning new things helps keep you engaged, which by default reduces boredom. But also, when you learn to meet your true needs instead of turning to food, you’re much less likely to be bored.
Prepare for the unexpected: with a diet mentality, it’s very hard to adjust to a change of plans or other unexpected things because diets are so rigid. With mindful eating, you’re much better equipped to adjust and go with the flow.
Improve confidence: knowing that you can trust your body and yourself to eat what you need without overeating (most of the time), you’ll have a lot more confidence in yourself. And learning anything new and getting better at it is always a good self-esteem boost.
Open to new perspectives: the world of dieting is very black and white, and by changing to mindful eating, you get a whole new view and perspective on everything, with a lot more colors and shades of gray.
Maintain cognitive health: learning anything new will help keep you mentally sharp, and if you eat mindfully, with balance, variety, and moderation, you’re also likely giving your brain more of the nutrients it needs.
Increase happiness: finally, getting good at something new like mindful eating tends to make you happier. Plus, if you don’t overeat as often, you’ll have more energy and can do more of the things you love, which will also make you happy.
Learning has many benefits
Learning is good for us in many ways, although it’s not always easy to do. Everyone has certain obstacles that they need to overcome to gain a new skill – including mindful eating – but if you can do that, you’ll experience lots of benefits. You’ll also be much more likely to continue learning, which will keep you in a positive feedback loop.
So, whether it’s mindful eating or something else, I hope you can take a little time to start learning something new today!