This is the second discussion regarding mindful eating. In the first application we discussed some potential triggers for eating. Some triggers are normal, natural and in response to true hunger cues. Other triggers may stem from fear, anxiety, frustration, loneliness, boredom or rejection. I encouraged those of you who struggled with this, to write down the occurrences, the provoker or provoking situation that set you into mindless eating.
I also encouraged you to write down what foods you chose to help you cope with unpleasant feelings and even what time of day it occurred most. Awareness or mindfulness is powerful and when you can recognize, you can start to conquer the underlying issues. We need to always remember that with any successful weight loss, we first need to identify what is causing us to overeat in the first place.
In this next application, I want to bring attention or mindfulness towards the simple act of just being mindful right before we are about to eat. Slowing down a little bit and giving some thought or planned focus and intention as to what foods we select, how much and why? For some, this may seem silly, but for someone who races to the kitchen to use food as a coping mechanism or for those who feel that optimal nutrition begins with smarter choices and awareness, this is very important.
Here is why: We are learning that obesity is the underlying condition for the disease of our time. One reason is that an abundance of reactive fat cells secrete chemicals called cytokines that trigger system wide inflammation. This inflammation is also called the silent killer, which is the origin for heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, liver disease, Alzheimer’s and arthritis. “Obesity is a pro-inflammatory state,” says Michael Charlton, medical director of liver transplantation at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Our goal in relationship to this knowledge, is being able to slow down and mindfully make better decisions to help ward off obesity.
The next exercise is adapted from the book, “Discover Mindful Eating,” written by Megrette fletcher, MEd, RD, CDE and Frederick Burggraf, MEd. There are many choices that an individual can make during any given meal. Learning and being able to identify them, is the essence of what eating mindfully truly is. Here are some of those choices.
1. How much food are you going to eat?
2. How much food do you really need?
3. How does the type of food influence how much you eat? For example, carrots vs cake.
4. How long do you chew each bite and at what rate?
5. Do you pause between bites?
6. How much do you enjoy each bite?
Can you imagine giving this much mindfulness at the next meal you sit down to, prepare or order from a restaurant? Would this much emphasis on choices and the thoughts surrounding eating, help you to be more aware of how much and why you are consuming each food? I encourage you to focus on some of the choices listed above.
When I was reading this book, I had to utilize several in depth applications on my chosen client and also myself, so please be aware that I have done this and I am aware of the difficulty and silliness you may experience at first. However, I think this is what is missing from our hurried lifestyle, in respect to being thankful and mindful with food that is provided to and for us. When we take food for granted or mistreat it, we can end up in some serious trouble with our health.
Let’s stop here for now, focusing on the choices above. Let’s also remember that eating mindfully is not a diet, but being completely present when we eat and learning to be in control of the choices surrounding food. If we are fully present, what would that do for the quantity and quality of food we choose? Wouldn’t that be an incredibly powerful tool for achieving a healthy weight and in return, help us to combat preventable disease without having to adhere to senseless, hard to maintain “diets”?