Mindful drinking and eating

People indulge in drinking and eating for many reasons: to relax, relieve stress, because it’s a weekend, to enjoy a particular drink or food, and so on. Sometimes, though, even with the best of intentions, you may eat or drink more than you realized or planned. There’s a way to get control of this: mindfulness, a mind-body skill you may have heard of for managing stress. But you can use it with everyday behaviors such as eating and drinking.

When you apply mindfulness to the experience of drinking or eating, you actually link two behaviors: letting go of stress and the act of drinking or eating. Using a mindful approach may help you relax and be more fully “aware” without blunting your experience with mindless or habitual drinking or munching.

Mindful drinking/eating is a tool that can be done either alone or with someone else. If you’re doing it with someone else, though, be mindful of staying in your own experience and respect that they too remain in their own experience.

The audio exercise linked below of mindful drinking (using the example of beer) and eating (munching on chips) can be a great way to become more aware and take control of this habit. As you listen, focus on developing the ability to be in the present moment and just experience eating or drinking without judgment or criticism.

You can download the mp3 file to your smart phone or tablet to listen whenever you feel the need, or you can print out the transcript to keep handy.

Warning: This exercise is not a substitute for medical care for those seeking treatment for substance abuse or binge eating.