I love food. I love the way it tastes. I love the way it smells. I love the way it looks. I love the way it makes me feel inside. I love eating food alone. I love eating food with friends and family. I love food. Food is good.
But I don’t always use it for good …
Ever since I hit puberty, I’ve used food as a crutch. Because it makes me feel full inside, I’ve used it to fill the holes in my life. I’ve used it to medicate my stress, my anger, my irrationality, my grief etc, etc, etc. I became aware of this years ago and have had some success in overcoming it to the extent that for long-ish periods (months, even years) I do eat healthily – and by that I mean I eat to satisfy my physical hunger and to celebrate life! Right now, I’m mostly in that zone. I’m mostly eating healthily, but on occasion I still find myself responding to stress by mindlessly stuffing my face with high-sugar, high-calorie foods.
I think this is an area of my life that would benefit from some mindfulness, so I’m going to eat mindfully. I first came across the concept via Beyond Chocolate. It’s been a while since I read the book, but, if I remember rightly, the gist is to focus on what you’re eating – the taste, the smell, the look, the feel – and to focus on your body’s response, to listen to your body, to eat slowly and attentively so you can feel when you are not just full, but when you are actually satisfied. Also, it’s about stopping before reaching for food and asking your body if it is actually hungry or if you are eating for some other reason. Am I Hungry? defines eating mindfully as:
- Eating with the intention of caring for yourself
- Eating with the attention necessary for noticing and enjoying your food and its effects on your body
They believe ‘that mindful eating encompasses the entire process of eating:
- Awareness of your physical and emotional cues
- Recognition of your non-hunger triggers for eating
- Learning to meet your other needs in more effective ways than eating
- Choosing food for both enjoyment and nourishment
- Eating for optimal satisfaction and satiety
- Using the fuel you’ve consumed to live the vibrant life you crave.’
Since starting this journey into mindfulness, a little phrase has popped into my head over and over again: one thing at a time. I believe I need to reduce the amount of time I spend multitasking and parallel processing and concentrate on one thing at a time, so for the next week, I’m going to focus on eating mindfully. I know this is not a quick fix. One week is not going to fix forty years of eating mindlessly, but it’s a start, and my first task will be to find a notebook to use as a food and mood diary …