Mindfulness around eating can be such an under-utilized skill in those with ADHD. What is it and how can it help you?
For those with ADHD, disordered eating can be a strong reality. We lack interoception - our internal sense of our body's state - and this can mean that we lack the skills to identify when we are hungry or full. As with most skills, they can be learned, and we can learn to develop more interoceptive awareness. A great way to do this is through Mindful Eating.
Here are 5 tips to help you practice Mindful Eating, develop a stronger sense of why you are making food choices, and help you identify and navigate what is really going on for you.
When we have distractions around us during mealtimes, we can often eat more than we would otherwise. We eat faster, which impacts our digestion. We might not make the best choices for our body as we are not tuned into how we feel and our needs in that moment.
Removing all distractions can really bring us back to the meal and help us to enjoy it more. Try putting cellphones out of reach, turning off the tv, not eating on the go. Sit down for your meal, whether that means alone or with family, and focus on the meal itself.
Set reminders for every 3.5-4 hours during the day. Check in on your body sensations at the time. What do you notice? Are you feeling hungry? What is your mood? When did you eat last? What do you need right now?
Sometimes, those with ADHD lack the interoceptive awareness to know if they are hungry or not. If you are still developing this skill, then you could begin by paying attention to what you are experiencing in your body during your check in. If you feel discomfort or are struggling with mood, note when the last time you ate was. You could try eating something every 3.5-4 hours while you learn and pay attention to what you start to notice. These sensations can give you information on what "hungry" might feel like for you.
ENGAGE YOUR SENSES
Focusing on engaging your senses during eating can support more efficient digestion, and help you to connect with how the food you are eating is making you feel.
Notice how the food looks. Is it colourful? Is it visually appealing?
Notice how the food smells. Does it smell delicious? Can you identify different smells within the meal?
Notice how the food sounds? Did you ever eat Rice Crispies as a child and listen to the "snap, crackle, and pop" sounds? Try doing that with your food now. Does it pop or sizzle, or make any other sounds?
Notice how the food feels. What kind of texture does it have - crispy, soft, chewy, hard, etc. Is it an enjoyable temperature and perhaps you might prefer it cold or hot.
TAKE IT SLOW
Slow your meal down and really focus on chewing your food thoroughly. This can help with digestion, while also allowing you an opportunity to check in on your hunger/fullness levels. Be aware that your brain is slower to receive the fullness signals and plan to consider stopping eating when you feel about 80% full. This can also help to minimize over-eating during a meal.
BE KIND & PRACTICE SELF-COMPASSION
You are human and you won't always make the best food choices. That's ok. Try approaching an over-eating incident with curiosity rather than shame. You may not realize what has happened until after you have demolished a pack of oreo's, yet when you do, it is important to be kind to yourself and reflect. Ask yourself if you were eating to manage an emotion. If so, what was that emotion and is there anything else you could do in the future to better process that emotion. What was going on for you prior to you regulating with food?
When you reflect and are able to provide some insight, learn from that and apply it to future situations. Sometimes, you will make a conscious choice to over-eat, and it is important that you negotiate with yourself that in order to proceed, you are not to shame yourself for it. Curiosity not shame.
Try implementing these tips and paying close attention to the difference it makes. If you continue to struggle then reach out to schedule an appointment so that we can work together to support you in your goals.