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Mindful Eating vs Diet Culture

Updated: Dec 10, 2022

by Sarah Philipp

✨ Mindful eating is just one form of mindfulness.

✨ Mindfulness is being aware of the moment without interpretation or judgment.

Since mindful eating is based in the philosophy of mindfulness, we can expect some of the same mental health benefits like improved concentration and mental clarity (According to the American Psychological Association.).

Mindful eating can also be a tool we use when trying to reach more physical goals like weight balancing, better energy, better sleep, etc. Intuitive eating is another term that is closely associated with mindfulness. In order to better understand mindful and intuitive eating, let’s take a look at what they are NOT.

Let’s start by breaking down the difference between diet culture and mindful eating.

Diet culture influences rising rates of anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. Eating disorders impact over 30 million Americans and have the highest mental illness mortality rate.

Diet culture has been such a massive part of our lives in the past 60 years. Sometimes, we lose sight of the impact it has on how we think about food. Whether it's fat, sugar, carbs, or meat, we're told _____ is bad and we are behaving badly if we eat it. Eating _____ is "cheating", and that sends a strong message to us that being on or off the diet is a "moral" choice.

Diet culture relies on:

  • External motivation (aka "before and after photos").

  • Will power to ignore what your body wants/needs.

  • Discipline to stick with a plan regardless of how it makes you feel or if you like it.

  • Guilt.

  • Being more disciplined / never allowing indulgences.

It also has a 95% failure rate, but somehow it passes the responsibility of the failure onto us.

What Mindful Eating Embraces:

  • Dignity at all sizes

  • Unconditional permission to eat, indulge, celebrate with food, and nourish ourselves when hungry.

  • Flexibility not rigidity

  • Less drama

  • Compassionate self reflection.

You may be feeling uncertain about making the shift.

It's normal to be feeling resistance at this stage and fear of the unknown. You may be feeling like the devil we know is better than the devil we don't.

Using food to life us up, calm us down, numb us, reward us, etc is what we know. What will life look like and how will we feel if we change that? We don't know, and that can be scary.

Or, intuitive eating might feel like it could become a "free for all" for you. No boundaries or rules.

These are all very common and natural fears. Take it slow, check-in with how you're feeling about these changes, and it might be worth scheduling a call with Sarah to get some guidance.

What you can try starting TODAY.

Most of us come into our meals rushed and distracted. We are in the middle of texting someone, feeling REALLY hungry, and usually end up piecing together a haphazard combination of ingredients or leftovers. Then, we start eating before we're even seated resulting in our meal gone and plate empty before we feel tuned in and ready to "officially start eating".

This can leave us feeling underwhelmed, unsatisfied, confused about our hunger levels, and suboptimal digestive results.

We can see so many improvements simply by shifting HOW we eat without even changing WHAT we're eating.

If you're ready to ramp it up.

The Mindful Eating Jumpstart might be a good fit. This is a two-week course that will walk you step-by-step through

  • How to separate our feelings from our food choices

  • "Self care debting".

  • Mindful eating tools for common scenarios like eating out, feeling overwhelmed, and feeling wiped out at the end of the day.

  • Your own daily mindful eating plan.

Let me know if you have any questions!

More mindful eating resources:


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