Journals

How Not to Eat Hypnotically – Mindful Eating for Physical and Emotional Health

I’ve often heard people say that we eat mindlessly. This isn’t quite accurate, though. Actually, while we eat, we spend most of our time daydreaming. This daydreaming is a form of hypnosis.

Under hypnosis you can become so focused on the contents of your mind that you lose awareness of the external environment. You can even lose awareness of your body. When we’re eating, we maintain just enough awareness of our body and environment to get the food into our mouth, and to get an initial taste of it. But then we go off into fantasies of various kinds.

We eat hypnotically.

If you’re anything like me, you have many memories of finishing a meal and realizing that you hardly noticed eating it because while eating you were lost in daydreams. You may also remember times when, after a meal, you felt bloated and too full, having eaten too much food, too fast. When this happens it’s a sign that we have turned the taste of food into an unhealthy hypnotic induction that separates us from a kind and gentle awareness of ourselves, and of the food we are eating.

It’s as though a hypnotist had given you a weird suggestion:

“As soon as you taste your food, you’ll forget who you are and what you’re doing, and you’ll fly off into elaborate fantasies of the past and the future. You will only return to conscious awareness when there’s no more food remaining to stimulate your taste buds.”

Often the content of these fantasies is negative. Let’s say you’re sitting down to dinner and you’ve had a rough day at work — your boss really came down hard on you. If you begin to replay a memory of the harsh words your boss said to you, while adding in what you wish you had said to him (that you couldn’t say because you didn’t want to lose your job) your mealtime fantasies will be filled with negativity. You’ll be eating your resentment and anger while you eat your food.

In other words, we eat our emotions. If those emotions are negative, we have turned our food into a kind of poison. Read more

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