Monday, February 3, 2014

Mindful Eating - starting a practice

With all the chaos that I feel goes on in my life, I have tried to develop some habits and teach my children some tools that can help deal with stress in this wild world we all live in.  One of these habits that I have been working on and trying to teach my oldest is Mindfulness. He tends to become overwhelmed quite easily and stresses out over things that others seem to deal with effortlessly.

I discovered mindfulness when I was looking for ways to not only help him relax, but also to help him focus his energies. It is a really awesome process and thankfully it is just as easy at it sounds. Being Mindful of yourself and aware of what is happening in the present. Sure it can take a lot of time and effort to master, but just like yoga and meditation, it doesn't take a lot of skill to start practicing.

You can do lots of things mindfully, exercise, meditation, housework, but one of the biggest mindful movements is Mindful Eating. Isn't the idea of that wonderful? The really good news that goes along with that wonderful idea is that it can be really really good for you. Over the last 20 years there have been several studies done that show mindful eating can help you be in better health and improve your relationship with food.

So how do you actually do it, this mindful eating stuff.  Here is a good way to get started:

1. Read up a a little on what mindful eating really is. Here is a great website that answers just that exact question. There are principles and suggestions that you can add to your practice.

2. Just be mindful - just be aware.  You don't have to start out knowing everything about it, this is a practice that you are beginning. Just the fact that you are beginning in a step forward. Start by being mentally focused and engaged in exactly what you are doing. Put down your phone, do not multi-task and be engaged fully in the one thing you are doing.

3. Check in with the 4 mindful points. Examine each point of mindfulness, if you are not being mindful gently bring yourself back to your focus.

  • a. Mind: Am I tasting each bite or am I zoned out when I eat? (You can download the awareness checklist here.)
  • Body: How does my body feel before and after I eat? Low energy? Stomach rumbling? Full? Empty?
  • c. Feeling: What do I feel about this food? Guilty? Pleasure? Joy? Disappointment? Regret?
  • d. Thoughts: What thoughts does this food bring to mind? Memories? Beliefs? Myths? Fears?

  • Being mindful of ourselves, especially while we are eating can help us enjoy our food and our meals more completely.  Start out slow, give yourself one meal or snack a day that you are going to practice being mindful during. You will love the feelings that it gives you and how much more you enjoy your meal and the food.