Mindful eating and chocolate consumption: how to consciously eat the most delicious foods

Mindful eating indicates being aware in the present moment in which you are eating, focusing on the characteristics of food, paying attention to the physical and emotional sensations of the body, and increasing the ability to perceive satiety.

 

The act of eating is often described as automatic behavior, which leads the individual to continue eating, without being aware of the amount of food he is taking (Cohen & Farley, 2008). The consumption of food can in this way become higher than the real needs of the subject, who however is unable to listen to his own body and understand when it sends signals regarding satiety (Papies, Stroebe, & Aarts, 2007).

In confirmation of this, a study (Painter, Wansink, & Hieggelke, 2002) found that the average consumption of chocolate by office workers during working hours was higher when food was placed on their desk than when it came placed in an environment different from one’s position, to indicate that taken from the frenzy of one’s own work activity and from the thoughts and concerns connected to it, eating became an automatic gesture and far from being aware of how much the body actually needed to receive that food .

Mindfulness, being described as the awareness that emerges from paying attention intentionally and in a non-judgmental way to experience in the present moment (Kabat-Zinn, 2003), proposes to apply these principles to the consumption of food, in order to reduce binge eating and encourage balanced nutrition.

Specifically, mindful eating can be conceptualized as being aware in the present moment when the subject is eating, focusing on the appearance, smell, color and flavor of the food, paying attention to the physical and emotional sensations coming from the body, and increasing one’s ability to perceive satiety (Albers, 2008). These measures are intended to develop the individual’s confidence in the body’s ability to signal when and how much to eat, minimizing impulsive reactions to food (Hendrickson & Rasmussnen, 2013).

Starting from these premises, the present study (Mantzios, Skillett, & Egan, 2019) aims to investigate the impact of mindfulness on the satisfaction and desire of chocolate, as well as on its actual consumption. After considering the exclusion criteria such as allergy to chocolate, a strong disgust for it, following a diet that abolishes its consumption or having a diagnosed eating disorder, 121 participants were selected and randomly assigned to one of the three conditions: the mindful exercise of raisins, modified and adapted for the consumption of chocolate, and consisting of a 4-minute audio, in which a narrator suggests to focus on the color, texture and flavor of the chocolate; the Constructive Conscious Diary (MCD) in which we ask to consider through six items based on mindfulness and self-compassion, the real need for food in the present moment; and the control group not subjected to any mindfulness exercise.

After counting the pieces of chocolate eaten and evaluating the degree of satisfaction and the desire to eat more, the results revealed a decrease in the consumption of chocolate in the group subjected to mindful exercises, but did not report significant differences in satisfaction and desire for it. , probably because the degree of preference for this food was so high that mindfulness exercises failed to diminish the urge to consume it.

In conclusion, we can say that mindful eating is based on learning the ability to consider eating as a sensory experience to be lived fully, and that both exercises used in the study are effective in reducing the consumption of caloric and useful foods for those who want to regulate their diet consciously, allowing the individual to continue eating even those foods that are usually not recommended, but taking responsibility for monitoring when and how much to do it.