Find the recipe here!
I’m somewhere between over indulgence and strict self monitoring. I notice when my body starts to tire of excess and I do keep up with my exercise routine.
But I'm always interested in defending myself against the deluge of delicacies and decadence this time of year.
Lately, I've been trying out something called mindful eating.
Mindful eating probably sounds a lot like signing up for a weird combination of yoga, meditation and a painful slog through dinner. Seriously, won’t your food get cold if you eat at the speed of a sloth on Ambien?
While mindfulness during a meal may sound painful in some ways, it’s actually proven to improve your relationship with food, develop an appreciation for your body as it is, and promote weight loss without dieting. Here’s how:
Without mindfulness we interact with the world this way:
Circumstance – Thought – Reaction
With mindfulness we interact this way:
Circumstance – Thought – Awareness – Response
The difference in living more mindfully, especially with food, is our ability to create a buffer between the circumstances we encounter and how we react. Without mindfulness, we live like Cookie Monster when he sees a cookie: See cookie, eat cookie! Without awareness we are likely to respond unconsciously to our thoughts (which we create based on personal experience and learning) in a way that feels beyond our control. Mindfulness allows us to pause and recognize our thoughts as the fickle beings they are while creating a response based on our values and not the situation.
Here’s a real life confession…I mean, example.
Mindfulness typically kicks in after my second trip to the gummy bear stash. I become highly aware of what I’m doing which is basically eating gummy bears without boundaries. I can feel that wave of grasping and lack of control all the way to my toes! I process that feeling and my internal dialogue becomes curiously accurate about what I am eating and why. I mentally identify that I have a choice to stop or keep going. Pausing, mindful of my choice, I continue eating the sugary treats despite my knowledge that they have no nutritional value and are serving as avoidance behavior or a distraction from writing a thank you note or catching up on phone calls. Yep, sometimes I chose delicious sugary indulgences and avoidance. Other times I chose to leave the cupboard door alone. It works both ways.
Knowledge is power friends – even if it doesn’t stop us every time. The cool part is we know we have a choice and another option is available to us next time. There is always hope! And with practice, comes better choices.
More good news is, with practice, mindfulness can help us feel more connected to our food and understand how it impacts our bodies. I experienced this recently when my husband was successful this deer hunting season.
While my son never did fulfill his first deer tag, my husband was determined to put meat in our freezer this year. He took a rare day off work and trekked up to the wilderness on his own. He was successful in his goal and was even home at a reasonable hour. As he processed the buck in our urban garage, I knew how careful he was to save every bit of meat he could and use it to nourish our family. Meat was weighed, packages were wrapped, and vacuum seals were made. He mentioned that he would leave out the juiciest, most tender steaks for dinner that night.
My mindfulness kicked in to high gear.
All of a sudden, I felt a great responsibility to make these steaks sublime.
Knowing the work that had gone into our dinner, I wanted to make everything perfect. I had gratitude to the animal and a keen awareness of our forefathers who also hunted for sustenance. I felt such connectedness to nature, animals, the cycle of life. I literally hovered over every step of the recipe to be sure everything would turn out beautifully so we could honor both the work of the hunter and the sacrifice of the hunted.
I know. I should start a telethon.
My experience might sound dramatic or even repulsive to some of you, but it was profound for me. I even Googled my feelings to see if I was the only nut on the planet feeling nostalgic and connected to a fallen creature and its habitat. Happily, I discovered this interesting read: An interview with Tovar Cerulli. This man gave up veganism and describes his interaction with food, specifically meat, beautifully. It resonated with me. He describes so eloquently what I was feeling!
Much like tending and growing a garden, there is such reward and connectedness in eating mindfully from the earth's provisions. I'm not suggesting we have a debate on what we eat, but rather just notice what feels satisfying and nutritious to you. That is the secret to feeding your soul and keeping your body healthy.
Here are 9 tips to get you started on the road to mindful eating.
And if you get desperate, picture me in the closet with a secret stash of gummy bears.
That should scare you straight!
Peace & Light,
The Busy Buddha
Talk Back to the Trio
Have you tried mindful eating before? What tips would you share?