9781572245433When you eat mindlessly, in response to cravings, you tune in to the environment.  This kind of craving-triggered, mindlessly-initiated and mindlessly-conducted eating puts you out of sync with your own body and your own mind.  Hunger-based, mindful eating reverses this process: it is a chance to tune it to yourself, a chance to self-synchronize. When you eat out of hunger (and mindfully), you tune in to yourself. But you don’t have to just take my word for it: test it out. Contrast and compare mindless craving-driven eating and mindful hunger-driven eating.

First try a whole day of craving-based mindless eating: eat each and every time you have a craving and when you do eat, eat mindlessly (distract yourself the way you usually do – read something, watch TV, etc). Notice a process of social and environmental synchronization. When you eat in a craving-driven fashion and mindlessly, you eat each and every time the environment presents you with a powerful enough stimulus to elicit a craving in you and you are paying attention to the environment rather than to yourself.  As a result, you become attuned to the environment, eating in sync, as if line-dancing with a crowd of strangers. Everybody eats, and you eat.  And you sort of disappear: you don’t feel yourself, you become invisible to yourself.

And then try out an entire day of mindful, hunger-based eating: eat only if you are hungry and eat mindfully (put the distractions aside, focus on the food and the process of eating). Notice a sense of tuning in to yourself, a process of self-synchronization (synchronization with your self), when you mindfully eat in a hunger-driven manner. While you begin to feel progressively out of sync with the environment (everybody eats, but you don’t), you begin to appreciate a sense of your behavior becoming synchronized with your intentions.

Notice what feels better to you.

Adapted from Eating the Moment (Somov, 2008)

Pavel Somov, PhD is the author of Eating the Moment (2008) and Reinventing the Meal (2012)