There was an interesting read over at The Nation last week – an interview with SF State professor Ronald Purser about his new book McMindfulness, a critique of the ways in which corporations have embraced mindfulness.

Stripped of all ethical and religious tenets, mindfulness meditation has morphed into a market-friendly practice, adaptable into any context. Even the US military deploys mindfulness among its commanders and troops, teaching them how to focus on their breath as they pull the trigger.

So it should surprise exactly no one to learn that at least one manufacturer of food-like products is embracing mindfulness as a way to encourage people to go right on buying their stuff.

OreosThat company, as as the Wall Street Journal recently reported, is Mondelez, owner of brands such as Oreo and Chips Ahoy, Swedish Fish, Cadbury, and many, many more. Suddenly, they’re all about “mindful snacking, or the practice of slowly and deliberately eating food.” The goal? “Convince increasingly health-conscious consumers that indulging in cookies, crackers and candy is OK to do sometimes.”

Mindful eating emphasizes awareness of physical hunger and satiety cues. “So many times people reach for food based on signals other than hunger—they’re bored, stressed or lonely,” says Lynn Rossy, president of the Center for Mindful Eating, a web-based forum for health-care professionals and individuals. “Part of mindful eating is stopping before you eat to ask ‘am I hungry?’” she says. “I like to say in general ‘eat when you’re hungry, don’t eat when you’re not hungry.’”

All well and good. But despite the WSJ spin, mindful eating involves more than just slowing down and paying attention to hunger and satiety cues. The Center for Mindful Eating lists other key principles, as well, including

  • Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom.
  • Using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body.

Though they can give you a quick lift, candy, cookies, and crackers are scarcely nourishing, nor are they particularly satiating. Such hyperprocessed products typically deny the body the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs to thrive while often delivering artificial ingredients that can, over time, interfere with how it was designed to function.

Why not a handful of nuts or a slice of real cheese instead? How about some trail mix or jerky? Why not some whole fruit? Something that will actually feed you?

No, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional treat. There’s nothing wrong with snacking either. In fact, snacking can actually be a great opportunity to give your body more of the nutrients it needs.

They’re just not going to be found in an Oreo, no matter how mindfully consumed.

Image by Natasha, via Wikimedia Commons

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