Welcome to the 3rd and final part of my Mindfulness Series!
Missed Parts 1 or 2?
Click here for Part 1: Simple Ways to Practice Daily Mindfulness.
Click here for Part 2: Mindful Spending.
I’m going to do it!
I’m going to talk about eating food…and it has absolutely nothing to do with dieting or losing weight!
Well, Sinead O’Rebellion! Shock me, shock me, shock me with that deviant behavior!
Heehee…a little Empire Records slip there…
But, seriously, I’m not going to tell you what or how much to eat. Believe it or not, that’s actually completely between you and your body…no outside input needed. I am going to tell you about how to bring mindfulness into the life-sustaining act of consuming food.
After dipping my toe into the mindfulness pool by learning mindful spending practices, I was encouraged by my therapist to read a book on mindful eating.
Just the mention of eating caused me stress.
Food and I haven’t always gotten along. I have a long history of disordered eating that spans decades. The one common denominator in all of my past struggles?
Mindless eating, to be specific. Being completely out of touch with my brain and my body and the needs of either one.
Mindful eating and being aware of my body and food was terrifying to me. So many foods had been labeled “bad” or “good” that I judged the food more than I thought about whether or not I actually wanted to eat it. Decades of this. Decades!
That is incredibly damaging to a person’s physical and mental well-being. I know that now. And, while I’m not completely cured, I am aware.
The book that was recommended to me was written by Jan Chozen Bays, MD, and is called Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food (Includes CD).
It changed my life.
It changed the way my brain actually perceives food.
It gave me peace where only stress and conflict had existed.
That’s pretty high praise for a book, right? Until you have read it and practiced the meditations and exercises, you truly have no idea.
I’ve read it multiple times and even refer back to it for refreshers when I’m feeling a little off. The CD that comes with the book is pretty great, too! I don’t want to just talk about a book though. It is an experience you have to take on your own, and only when you are ready.
If you aren’t in the mood to read an amazing book about mindful eating, let me share with you some ways that I make it happen for myself. There really is no right or wrong way to be mindful, but I know what works for me. And what doesn’t work.
Mindful Eating is
- Paying attention to your body and mind and choosing foods that will make you happy as well as nourish you.
- Taking your time to eat the food you’ve chosen. Really taste your food. Don’t rush.
- Realizing that you may not like a food once you give it your attention…and that’s totally cool! No judgment in any area of mindfulness!
- Eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full, no matter what everyone else is doing around you.
- Not labeling food through judgment on its nutritional value. There are no “right” or “wrong” foods.
The biggest thing is that mindful eating is not mindless eating. You must stay aware and in the present moment to reap the benefits of mindfulness…even where food is concerned. Everyone experiences mindfulness in their own way.
As I’ve said before, I don’t always practice mindfulness. And I don’t always practice mindful eating. I get distracted by life and work and lack of sleep, and I just zone out. I eat mindlessly on occasion because I just don’t have the energy to be mindful. Not an excuse…just a statement of fact.
In the beginning, I beat myself up about not getting it just right. I was aware, but I was also still placing judgment on my thoughts and actions. I’ve learned to let go a little more as time has passed.
Food is just food. It doesn’t control me.
I’m noticing a trend in my Mindfulness Series posts. Being mindful releases the need for control or to be controlled. I know that mindfulness offers peace in the areas of life where you apply it, but maybe it also offers freedom.
Freedom from judging ourselves.
Freedom to make informed choices.
Freedom to eat the damn cupcake and really enjoy it!
What are your thoughts on mindful eating?
How do you use mindfulness in your daily meals?
Have you read any other books by Jan Chozen Bays? I think she’s brilliant. The next book of hers that I want to read is How to Train a Wild Elephant & Other Adventures in Mindfulness: Simple Daily Mindfulness Practices for Living Life More Fully & Joyfully. It just sounds fun!
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on mindfulness this week. The rest of this month will be about self-soothing, self-care, meditation, and mantras.
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