What is Mindfulness…and what does it have to do with eating?
I have a ‘confession’ to make.
I like potato chips.
If you had asked me even five years ago, I would have said that potato chips were my ‘weakness’. I felt like I couldn’t help myself in the face of a bag of Wavy Lay’s. So I wouldn’t buy them…fearful that I go overboard, yet again. If I was at a party, everyone knew where I would be standing: with one hand in the chip bowl. All. Night.
Now, I can both have them in front of me and really enjoy some chips… and sometimes not even want them.
What has changed? Getting mindful about how I eat.
Now, let me not give the impression that I have this mindful eating thing (or anything at all!) totally figured out. I am most certainly a #workinprogress. However, over the years I am getting better about enjoying indulgent foods without guilt or anxiety…and giving my body what it truly needs most of the time, which is tons of plants. And I enjoy all this ‘healthy stuff’ like I used to enjoy potato chips. For real.
What is mindfulness…and what does it have to do with my dinner?
Mindfulness, simply put, is awareness. You may think awareness is as central to life as breath but the truth is that many of us walk around on autopilot. Just this morning, as I reached to slap on the coffee machine post-5AM wake up with my babe, I somehow was aware enough to ask myself…do I really even want a coffee? The answer was no, I really wanted a massive mug of strong tea. So I made myself a cup of tea. It’s memorable because most of the time, I don’t even bother to ask (mindfulness is hard when sleep-deprived!!!).
There is not a damn thing wrong with having a cup of coffee. However, doing anything because ‘that is just what you do’ is worth challenging. Even if it is just once in a while.
“Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.” ― Sylvia Boorstein
Nowhere is this autopilot more pronounced than in how we eat. Food is everywhere now. It’s cheap, convenient, and engineered to be hyper-pleasurable. We are constantly bombarded by messages to indulge more, eat more…just plain eat eat eat. Alongside, particularly at this time of year, we are also awash in a tidal wave of detox-fuelled dietary ‘redemption’.
After a joyful season of feasting, many people approach the start of the New Year by trying to ‘undo the damage’ with some manner of exacting dietary regime. But in doing so – even if it does budge some weight for a month or two – you often aren’t doing anything to address how you eat. Why you eat. And getting connected to these deeper actions are necessary to change your eating habits for good.
How many times have you eaten an entire bag of snacks in front of the TV? And not even felt full or satisfied? And then felt guilty about it?
OR…choked back some god-awful, algae-looking sludge because it was supposed to help you detox?
The goal here is to truly understand how, why and what you eat…with no judgement. Because judgement fuels anxiety which fuels more mindless eating.
“In mindfulness, acceptance always comes first, change comes after.” ― Shamash Alidina
Introducing the #Mindful2017 Eating Challenge
This week marks the start of my #Mindful2017 eating challenge. Each Monday, I will share a mindful eating practice on social media…this week it is to learn more about mindfulness.
That’s it: open your mind to the potential for change…and learn all the ways in which that change might be beneficial. Really give it your attention. Take a few minutes everyday to reflect on how your choices are mindful/mindless and spend some time learning more about mindful eating. This blog post is a good place to start.
Becoming a more mindful eater encompasses a whole new way of looking at food and interacting with food over the course of your daily life. What might it look like to be a more mindful eater? Here are just a few examples:
- When grocery shopping, thinking about all of the human energy and natural phenomena (sunlight, rain) that contributed to producing a food.
- Committing to be more aware during the cooking process and shifting your perspective from one of a chore to a pleasure (put on this playlist and make it fun!)
- Waiting until you actually feel a bit of physical hunger before you eat…and stop eating when you feel full and satisfied.
- Giving the food you are eating your full attention: not eating in front of a screen or while you drive.
- Noticing how eating certain foods make you feel (Jittery? Lethargic? Unsatisfied?) and making a food selection that makes your body feel really good.
Join me this month and ditch diets for good (there will even be prizes!!)