Mindful-not-mouthful approach to eating aims to override the old habit of “if eat – then be mindless” by a new, more adaptive habit of “if eat – then be mindful.” In a manner of speaking, the mindful-not-mouthful approach to eating aims to automate mindfulness. Automate mindfulness? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?! Not really. The goal is habit modification. While the goal of making mindful eating a habit may seem paradoxical, it really isn’t. The idea is to help you become habitually mindful of your eating, to get to the point where the decision to be mindful about eating is evoked mindlessly, automatically, effortlessly, and out of force of habit. Yes, I’d like for mindful eating to have the force of habit in your eating life. This kind of habit-forming or conditioning is the only assurance that the book in your hands will help you make a lasting difference in your battle with overeating.
Mindfulness and knowledge are different things. Knowledge is informational awareness. Mindfulness is experiential awareness. To know something is different from experiencing something. In your self-help readings or treatment encounters you might have come across the advice to “eat mindfully” or “slow down your eating and be conscious of taste.” Knowing this advice leads to informational awareness. Applying this advice creates experiential awareness.
Knowing that you need to be conscious of your eating or even trying it a few times, according to someone’s prototype of mindful eating, is insufficient for a change in eating habits. And yet, informational awareness is a vital precursor of change.
The intent of the approach is to help you make the three-point journey from (1) knowledge (of mindful eating), to (2) practice (of mindful eating), to the destination of (3) habitual application (of mindful eating); from the starting point of appreciating the necessity of mindful eating, to experimenting with it, to the permanent awakening of the overeating “zombie.”