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Mindful eating: Introduction

Watch Richard and lead educator for Monash University's 'Food as Medicine', Melissa Adamski introduce 'mindful eating'.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: I’m here with Melissa Adamski, a dietitian and one of the lead educators on the ‘Food as Medicine’ suite of online courses at Monash.
MELISSA ADAMSKI: Hi, Richard. Thanks for having me here.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: It’s a pleasure to have you here. And can you tell us a little bit about what dietitians do?
MELISSA ADAMSKI: Sure. So here at the University, in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food, we work a lot with, obviously, food and nutrients and how they affect health, but also, we’re interested in how our behaviours affect health as well. So why we eat what we do.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: A lot of us very unmindfully, though, when we get down to the how of eating. Whether that’s just being distracted, perhaps we’re eating in front of a screen, or just while we’re doing something else.
MELISSA ADAMSKI: Yeah, watching television.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: Yeah, exactly. Or perhaps even just relating to food through concepts and ideas, rather than directly through the experience of eating itself. Is that something that you see a lot in the people that you work with?
MELISSA ADAMSKI: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. So there’s many times when I ask people about what they’ve eaten over the day, or what they have for dinner. And people were very good at recalling the good things that we have, and, you know, the things we have for our main meals, but a lot of the time, it’s the foods in between our main meals. And the things that we’re eating while we’re on the run in the car, or while we’re answering emails in the afternoon at work. They’re the things that we are not being mindful about, and we, a lot of the time, don’t realise how much we’re actually eating or what we’re eating and why.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: And, of course, we don’t taste the food that we’re eating. Perhaps if we’re not paying attention, we’re not fully enjoying it. I think that’s one of the big costs. Also, just not listening to the body. You know, not noticing the signals that the body’s giving us. So we don’t know when we’re hungry, or when we’re full, or if we’re eating because we’re emotional or stressed, or if it’s actually because we’re hungry. And there are a lot of costs that come with that.
MELISSA ADAMSKI: One of the largest costs is the burden of disease, especially chronic disease, in the population around the world today. A lot of the time, that’s driven by lifestyle. And one lifestyle factor that’s very important to consider is eating, and a lot of the time overeating on the wrong sorts of foods. And so being unmindful about eating can really drive those portion sizes up, and really drive the choices of non-appropriate foods, or discretionary foods, which can all lead into the development of disease, a chronic disease in the future.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: So perhaps we might want to bring some more mindfulness to our eating. Both as a way of enjoying food more, but also perhaps letting the body guide us, and eating the right amount of food at the right time.
MELISSA ADAMSKI: And if people are thinking about making changes to their diet, or their eating habits, as many people want to, bringing mindfulness can help make that change easier, or help find habits that are easiest for you to stick to, rather than trying to fit a diet onto a lifestyle, and it’s not going to be sustainable.
RICHARD CHAMBERS: So big implications for our health and well-being, but also just for our enjoyment. Because if we’re not tasting it, we’re not fully enjoying it. And perhaps we might want to change that habit, but also it means that mindfulness eating and it becomes a mindfulness practice. So when we sit down to eat, whether it’s a snack or a meal, we can use that as an opportunity to actually cultivate the ability to be present, and focused, and aware. To bring more mindfulness into your eating, you might just start by paying attention more to your body. Tuning into the signals that it’s giving you, noticing if you’re actually hungry, or perhaps you’re eating because you’re stressed or emotional.
And then when we’re eating, to actually bring our full attention to the meal. Ditch the screens. Don’t do other things. And to fully taste and enjoy each mouthful of food.

Watch Richard and lead educator for Monash University’s Food as Medicine, Melissa Adamski introduce mindful eating, where the application of mindfulness can help you to better engage with the experience of eating food.

If it’s of interest to you, a document outlining the benefits of eating mindfully is available from the Downloads section of this step. We hope you find it useful.

Using food as medicine

Explore the role of food in health and apply nutrition science to guide you on using food as medicine for you and your family in Monash University’s ‘Food as Medicine’.

Join ‘Food as Medicine’

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