You have power over food!

Mindful Eating

Our eating is habitual

How many times have you sat down to eat and then all of a sudden realized that you are done and you can’t even remember what you ate? Or said you would have a few and finish the bag? It’s a pattern that many of us face, some every meal, some every day.

It happens so easily

So, I want to tell you what changed my life. You see I have spent many years struggling with my relationship with food. I saw food as something I ate, not as something that had a purpose.
Then one day I had a craving for chocolate, I kept trying to resist it, for days I told myself it would go away, I didn’t need it. So finally I decided to go buy 1 chocolate. Now I don’t know when the last time you were in a chocolate store, so let me paint this experience for you. As you walk close to the store you can actually smell it, then you look up and see someone making some fresh chocolate. Creamy waves fold over the table as it is worked, fruits and nuts added, toppings applied.
As you walk in the store you feel change in the brightness as the lights point on the boxes full of chocolates of shapes and sizes. You are warmly greeted by a friendly employee, who offers you a sample of the newest flavor.
So I know what you’re thinking… There is NO way I left with just one chocolate. And you are correct, you see after speaking with the lovely employee they share with me the special deal of the day. And of course somewhere in my head I made this a “I can bring some home, share with my family, what a treat that will be”.
So what comes next? I take this beautiful box full of yummy goodness. Get back to work, sit down, open it, eat one… and then another… and then another. Next thing I know the box is empty, I don’t remember tasting it, I don’t know if I even  enjoyed it and emotionally I feel awful.

So how can you take your power back?

As in a recent article by CNN, Mindful eating is rooted in the idea of mindfulness, an ancient practice that promotes being aware of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and environment instead of living your life on autopilot.
When applied to diet, mindful eating involves focusing on chewing your food, taking your time, being in tune with when your body signals that you are hungry or full, and being aware of how your food appears, smells and tastes.
“Over time, eating can become habitual. … We don’t even check in to see if we’re hungry. It’s, ‘Oh, I’m watching a movie? It’s time for popcorn,’ ” said Dr. Judson Brewer, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and director of research for the university’s Center for Mindfulness.
“There’s that push and pull that comes with life. We either eat mindlessly, or we eat based on cravings,” he said. “Mindfulness comes in, in this way, where we can notice that push and pull. We notice the cravings, the habits … and mindfulness helps us be with those feelings to say, ‘do that’ or ‘don’t do that.’ “

Comparing mindful to mindless eating

According to Psychology Today, “Mindful eating helps us learn to hear what our body is telling us about hunger and satisfaction. It helps us become aware of who in the body/heart/mind complex is hungry, and how and what is best to nourish it.”

So how can you address your own patterns? Here is a great checklist from Christopher Willard PsyD and mindful.org.

So how can you start mindful eating?

To me, this means holding space for myself to listen, kind of like taking a pause.

Present            Be present when you eat. Put down or turn off other simulation, take time to make eating your only task.

Awareness     Ask yourself, how physically hungry am I? How do I know I’m hungry?

Understand   How are my feelings impacting my food choices?

Savor                 Take a mindful bite! Start by smelling your food, taste, touch and listen.

Enjoy                 Are you really enjoying this bite? Does it taste the way you expected?

My challenge to you

This isn’t something that will change over night, so here is a way to get started. Make your first bite a mindful bite.

Please share your experiences in the comments below.

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