HEDONIC EATING VERSUS MINDFUL EATING
hedonic – of or characterized by pleasure
mindful – conscious or aware of something
We eat food because of its ability to provide us with the necessary nourishment and its ability to aid in our brain function. But with the vast majority of foods available, and their desirable tastes, eating can become a pleasure tool to satisfy our desires. Hedonic eating is eating just for the pleasure it brings rather than for the nutritional benefits that can be gained from such eating. Hedonic hunger makes an individual consume certain pleasant food even in the absence of physical hunger. Food is consumed because of its rewarding component. Hedonic influences abound with the multitudes of technological instruments appealing to our sensory organs. With multitudes of snacks, sweets and various high-calorie foods out there, hedonic eating is a common phenomenon. These foods are palatable, convenient, easily available ,and the desire to consume them is high. Cravings are form of hedonic eating, making the eater desire certain food or drink.
Mindful eating is being more aware of what you eat, savoring every taste and taking every bite consciously, with an effort to stop at just being satisfied, meanwhile hedonic eating makes you eat more food, mindlessly, in a bite to have it all, get over-satisfied and still keep going. Mindful eating observes the body, considers the hunger signals, weighing them rightfully before deciding to eat. While eating, mindful eating takes time to note that all distractions are put aside and focus is put on the food in front of the eater, consuming every bite more consciously, feeling every texture and taste of the food.
Hedonic eating can be triggered by emotional circumstances, such as loneliness and stress. While mindful eating seeks to understand emotional feelings that may trigger hedonic eating, and focuses on not entertaining such feelings and to stay on the course of eating consciously and purposely. Mindfulness while eating encourages you to put away distractions such as TV, internet, and cell phones which could spur overeating. Every time spent in mindful eating can be well accounted for, as the senses are in full corporation with the mouth and stomach.
Consciously putting your mind into eating is very beneficial as it helps you be more in control of your eating behavior. Mindful eating connects with the brain and signals to the body when to stop eating and when to start eating, unlike hedonic eating which hardly connects to the brain in the process of eating; The end is just to satisfy this ‘pleasant urge’ to eat. Mindfulness in eating involves breaking free from usual eating habits by thinking through the feelings and internal forces that influence how you eat and your purpose for eating.
Hedonic eating doesn’t require much effort, most times it’s being programmed by impulse into our subconscious, so when the desire to eat something palatable comes, we just move to eat; meanwhile mindful eating requires effort, programming your mind to consciously choose how food is being eaten. Mindfulness helps you listen to your body when it screams hunger or being full. It allows you to obey your body cues. Self-control is a necessary attribute when it comes to hedonic and mindful eating. Hedonic eaters hardly refrain from food which seems pleasant and desirable to them. Mindful eaters on the other hand consciously weigh all options before eating, and know how to control their mind and sensory organs towards their food.
Hedonic eating is one major cause of obesity, as most times the eaters go over the limit satisfying their hedonistic desire, and eventually accumulate excess fat which is then stored up in their body. Mindful eating is beneficial in weight management, as it helps the eater to be more aware of food choices, portions, and manner of consumption.
Hedonic eaters can become more mindful eaters by taking into consideration their motive for eating and how they eat. It would require conscious disciplined efforts for a hedonic eater to overcome the habit. One way is for such an eater to have an eating diary which helps put in check what to eat and when to eat, and also rating on a scale their level of hunger before having any meal or snack. Questions such as the following should be asked before embarking on any meal: Why am I eating this meal? Am I really hungry? Did I eat in the past 1-2 hours? Am I eating just to satisfy an urge? If these can be answered rightly, it can help the hedonic eater to become more mindful. Also, it would help them overcome their hedonic habits gradually.
It is also important to note that mindful eating is not a method of dieting nor some form of food restriction. It doesn’t limit to certain food structure, but rather it helps to coordinate eating behaviors. On the other hand, dieting could lead to some hedonic behaviors, when the eater becomes emotional or judgmental.
Final thoughts: I could use the term “hedonic” for many other behaviors in today’s society. We are all seeking some form of “self-pleasure” in different aspects of our lives. The danger is when our lives become utterly consumed with a particular “hedonistic” action. Let’s be honest with ourselves, that kind of lifestyle is quite selfish, and not only damaging to one’s self, but also to the people closest to us. So, I think if one can shift from “hedonic eating” to “mindful eating,” then you will at same time start living a conscious life.
“Happiness doesn’t derive from location, or material possession, it derives from a higher state of consciousness.”