Welcome to Emotional Eating Session III. First let me go over the premise of mindfulness again. Like affirmation the more we hear it, the more it becomes a part of us. Mindfulness is a return to paying attention to life. And, when we pay attention to our food, and I mean really pay attention, we begin to notice all sorts of wonderful aspects of the food, and more importantly, we become aware of how much food we’re putting into our bodies.
Mindfulness is the moment by moment awareness of life without getting caught up in our own thoughts and self-talk that distracts this awareness.
Unfortunately we carry this over to our eating. We have meal after meal, snack after snack, barely aware of what we’re eating and how much we’re consuming.
I cannot stress enough the power of journaling! If you don’t have time to write down the thing you are eating, is it really ok to be eating it? The major reason to be journaling is awareness. It shows us in a concrete form exactly what we have put in our bodies each and every minute of the day and it keeps us accountable to the most important person – ourselves!
Mindfulness is awareness without judgment or criticism. It is very important to realize that we are not comparing ourselves to anyone else. We are not judging ourselves or others. We are simply witnessing the many sensations and thoughts that come up as we eat. The recipe for mindful eating calls for the warming effect of kindness and the spice of curiosity.
We stressed how mindful eating involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside the body. We must also pay attention to the mind. While avoiding judgment or criticism, we watch when the mind gets distracted, pulling away from full attention to what we are eating or drinking. We watch the impulses that arise after we’ve taken a few sips or bites: to grab a book, to turn on the TV, to call someone on our cell phone, or to do web search on some interesting subject. We notice the impulse and return to just eating.
We notice how eating affects our mood and how our emotions like anxiety influence our eating. Gradually we regain the sense of ease and freedom with eating that we had in childhood. It is our natural birthright.
The old habits of eating and not paying attention are not easy to change. Don’t try to make drastic changes. Lasting change takes time, and is built on many small changes. We start simply.
Mindful eating has the powerful potential to transform people’s relationship to food and eating, to improve overall health, body image, relationships and self-esteem. Mindful eating involves many components such as:
- learning to make choices in beginning or ending a meal based on awareness of hunger and satiety cues;
- learning to identify personal triggers for mindless eating, such as emotions, social pressures, or certain foods;
- valuing quality over quantity of what you’re eating;
- appreciating the sensual, as well as the nourishing, capacity of food;
- feeling deep gratitude that may come from appreciating and experiencing food
Mindful eating draws substantially on the use of mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness helps focus our attention and awareness on the present moment, which in turn, helps us disengage from habitual, unsatisfying and unskillful habits and behaviors. Engaging in mindful eating meditation practices on a regular basis can help us discover a far more satisfying relationship to food and eating than we ever imagined or experienced before.
A different kind of nourishment often emerges, the kind that offers satisfaction on a very deep emotional level. Over the past 25 years, mindfulness practices, in general, have been shown to have a positive impact on many areas of psychological and physical health, including stress, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and heart disease. More recently, evidence is building that validates the benefits of mindful eating for treatment of obesity as well as binge eating disorders. The benefits of mindful eating are not restricted to physical and emotional health improvements; they can also impact one’s entire life, through a better sense of balance and well-being.
The Center for Mindful Eating, of which I am a member, is committed to dialogue, support, sharing ideas, clinical experience and research. As such I’d like to include an easy guide, for educational purposes only, to the principles of mindful eating.
THE PRINCIPLES OF MINDFULNESS
Mindfulness is deliberately paying attention, non-judgmentally.
Mindfulness encompasses both internal processes and external environments.
Mindfulness is being aware of what is present for you mentally, emotionally and physically in each moment.
With practice, mindfulness cultivates the possibility of freeing yourself of reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting.
Mindfulness promotes balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is.
MINDFUL EATING IS:
Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.
Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor and taste.
Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment. Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.
SOMEONE WHO EATS MINDFULLY:
Acknowledges that there is no right or wrong way to eat but varying degrees of awareness surrounding the experience of food.
Accepts that his/her eating experiences are unique.
Is an individual who by choice, directs his/her awareness to all aspects of food and eating on a moment-by-moment basis.
Is an individual who looks at the immediate choices and direct experiences associated with food and eating: not to the distant health outcome of that choice.
Is aware of and reflects on the effects caused by unmindful eating.
Experiences insight about how he/she can act to achieve specific health goals as he/she becomes more attuned to the direct experience of eating and feelings of health.
Becomes aware of the interconnection of earth, living beings, and cultural practices and the impact of his/her food choices has on those systems.
©The Center for Mindful Eating Free to reproduce and distribution for educational purposes only
Carlotta Robbins is a psychologist and hypnotherapist. She works primarily with weight problems and more importantly those emotions and thoughts that lead to weight gain. If you have any questions, she will be glad to answer them firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her contact us page at www.rejuvenation21now.com/contact.
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