From our humble beginnings, our bodies have known how to survive by understanding when they are hungry versus full. It is essential for us to be aware of and connect with both the physical and emotional aspects of our bodies so that we can be more intuitive and intentional in our eating habits. This is called “mindful eating.” 

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, mindfulness is the “awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, nonjudgmentally.” 

Being able to increase our nonjudgmental awareness of our internal and external experiences just as they are, without trying to push them away or cling onto them too strongly, allows us to use our thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations as information for what we might need at any moment. In this case, this would mean specific foods, water, body movement, and so on.

Our ability to mindfully eat starts with us acknowledging all of our senses while we eat – sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch – and the emotional, traditional, and cultural ties we have with food. 

This practice helps us to honor our body’s natural hunger and its satisfaction cues in order to nonjudgmentally choose foods for a variety of purposes. These purposes can include nourishment, social enrichment, and enjoyment. enhances our intuitive eating skills, overall. You can practice mindful eating here: Mindful Eating Exercise

When food is seen as a source of stress/anxiety, the natural relationship between the body and mind can be disrupted, especially in a society that emphasizes “diet culture.” This can influence disordered eating. Eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that are influenced by a variety of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors and can cause consequences for emotional, physical, and social health.

Eating disorders affect a diverse spectrum of individuals with approximately twenty million women and ten million men in the United States developing an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Although eating disorders are complex mental/physical illnesses, 60 percent of individuals with eating disorders make a full recovery with psychological counseling.  It should be noted that the earlier a person with an eating disorder seeks treatment, the greater the likelihood of recovery. 

If you or someone you know are experiencing difficulties with their eating, weight, and/or body, please consider taking the free eating disorder screener available on the Florida Tech Student Counseling Center website at: https://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/floridatech. This eating disorder screening will consist of answering a brief questionnaire about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors regarding food consumption, eating habits, and weight regulation. Afterwards, you will receive an explanation about your eating behaviors, as well as additional information about what you can do to help yourself and how to get professional help. For additional information on eating disorders, please visit the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness, and Eating Disorder Hope websites. 

National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA): https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

Eating Disorder Hope: http://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/

If you find yourself in need of professional help after taking the screener, please reach out for help! The Student Counseling Center is here for you! Our center provides a variety of mental health and wellness services to assist you and other students in successfully reaching personal, academic, and career goals. Please take a moment to visit our website: https://www.fit.edu/counseling-and-psychological-services/ to learn more information about our services and support, as well as resources for psychological health and well-being. Be the healthiest Florida Tech Panther you can be!

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