In other Today I was going through some of my old nutritional coaching books and I read something that I wanted to share with all of you. It sounds so simple but it truly makes complete sense and I think it is important to highlight. Right now we are all experiencing a lot of stress due to the Covid-19 virus. If your digestion system is feeling a little wonky it might be because we are hyper-focused on so many things right now. Take this opportunity to slow down and connect with your food. Take the time to really stop and taste each bite.
Mindful Eating is becoming very popular as a method for encouraging individuals to use their inner wisdom to find joyfulness in the preparation and consumption of food. Sounds so simple right? It is and it is not.
Mindfulness has roots in Buddhist and other contemplative traditions and is defined as “the state of being attentive to and aware of what is taking place in the present” This is where it gets simple but we take it for granted. If we are not aware we are more likely to behave compulsively or automatically and may not be behaving in our best interests. Things that can pull us away from awareness of the present can be absorption in the past, fantasies, anxieties about the future, preoccupation and negative feelings such as anger and jealousy. If we want to practice mindful eating we need to try and replace mindless eating with conscious awareness. This will allow us to recognize the pleasure of our eating experience. OK I know I might have lost you but I beg you to stay with me. I will break it down for you. Again I know this may sound so simple but I have studied behavior for a long time and just recently have discovered how much behavior and thinking are interfering with the way we eat.
Here are some simple and yes I said simple components of mindful eating. Please take a moment to read them over and give them a shot. Let me know your thoughts.
Eat slowly– Periodically take breaks during your eating to breathe. I take two bites then two full breathes. The breathes are not huge deep breathes but they are more like a reminder to pause.
Focus on eating-Remove distraction; do not eat in the car or while watching TV or working on the computer (Ugh this is a tough one for me but I am going to work on it)
Recognize inner cues-Use feelings of hunger and fullness to guide eating rather than a defined diet plan. (this is a huge point, eat whole eat clean food and pay attention to your tummy)
Eat nonjudgmentally-Acknowledge likes, dislikes and neutral feelings about food without judgment.
Be aware of senses– Use all your senses to explore, savor and taste food. I have really started to tap into the texture of food. I find it fascinating.
Be in the present– Focus on the direct experiences associated with food and eating, not distant outcomes. In other words, do not eat the donut while stressing about the sugar. Commit to what you are eating and just enjoy it at the time.
Reflect on mindless eating-Be aware of and reflect on the effects caused by unmindful eating (eating out of boredom or frustration, eating to the point of fullness) I no longer eat in front of the TV. After practicing all of these things I realized that I often would eat and not even taste a single bite.
Recognize interconnectedness– Recognize an interconnection of the earth, living beings, and cultural practices and the impact of food choices on those systems. I know this sounds woo woo but just try it. Now that I am learning to garden I have a deep appreciation for the veggies on my plate and how they got there.
Practice meditation– Make meditation practice a part of your life. Ok this really is not a mindful eating practice but I can never avoid an opportunity to plug starting a meditation practice 🙂
I hope this helps some of you. I know that reviewing this book reminded me of some things I need to get better about focusing on. I also want to mention the elephant in the room. I know right now we are all eating a few more carbs and a few more sugar bites than we normally would chew on. It is ok but do not I repeat DO NOT use it as an opportunity to say “Screw it” and piss away all of your hard work 🙂 Enjoy an extra treat or have that bowl of popcorn but do not let this pandemic derail you. I have my moments trust me but I do not let them hang around for too long. I want to keep my body as strong as I can right now and that bag of chips will not help.
Hugs to all of you.