Peer Health Educators: Mindfulness

By The Tiernan Field House Peer Health Educator Team


Trigger Warning: disordered eating and eating disorders


In the process of food becoming more accessible (i.e. fast food restaurants) and processed “ready-meals” we have begun to sacrifice the experience of eating for convenience and efficiency. I will notice myself scarfing down lunch or dinner rather than taking the time to enjoy the food. As someone who hopes to be a sustainable farmer, I want to connect people back to the way that food is supposed to taste. Sure, a strawberry is nice in the middle of winter on the East coast, but can you taste the difference between that imported berry and an organic one from the farmer’s market during the peak of strawberry season?

While getting back in touch with the way food is meant to taste might seem easy, it’s much more complicated than that. Our bodies have been trained by heightened sensory-pleasing foods (high in sugar or salt), making “regular” or whole foods seem bland. But, trust me, there is nothing bland about a simply roasted beet. A great place to start learning about the way our bodies interact with food is the documentary Fed Up, available on Netflix. Understanding how our bodies interact with food is one step to mindful eating.

The biggest problem with achieving mindful eating habits is all the misinformation thrown at us through social media, magazines, blogs, etc. Everyone is telling us the “secrets” to a “healthy” lifestyle, but, we don’t even need these resources because our greatest resource of all is our own body. Listening to what your body says during a meal like “I’ve had a plenty,” or “I’m still hungry,” is key. I will admit, respecting what our bodies are saying so clearly is no easy feat. I have struggled with disordered binge-eating since age thirteen, where I constantly fight
for control during meals. I can feel the sensation of being satiated, but that doesn’t stop me from pushing my limits. Getting back in touch with my body’s needs, what makes me feel good, what feeds my soul, is how I do my best to live a “healthy” lifestyle.

Returning to the way food is supposed to taste and savoring that food more seriously is the truly the first step to mindful eating. Appreciation means slowing down during meals. We can slowly back away from the idea that eating is a chore, a responsibility, and come to enjoy the experience. The second step is understanding the internal processes of how our body interacts with certain nutrients and substances. Rather than just eating vegetables because someone told you it’s healthy, discover the nutrients that are found in salad and many other foods (like sweet things, too!) that our body wants, making our meals more purposeful. Finally, listening to what our bodies are saying is the last step in mindful eating. In fact, this step is the true definition of mindful eating. Building a loving relationship with food, for me, is the end goal. Eating mindfully is the way that I get to love food more, and it’s the way that I can respect food more because food is wholly and completely the most awesome thing in this world, which deserves some serious respect.

For more information or a free consultation on wellness, you can contact Angela Armijo, Master of Public Health, at aarmijo@scrippscollege.edu