A Guilty Eater to Mindful Eater
This used to be my cycle of eating:
I ate a food or a meal, being a ‘good’ or ‘bad food’.
I played a conversation in my mind (more of a battle), thoughts like: “Did I eat too much of it”, “How many grams of fat or calories does that food have”, “ You ate too quickly Jess, didn’t you.”
I hated myself for eating that food/meal. I didn’t stop thinking about that food for hours and days. I woke up thinking about it. I thought (I knew) that food would make me put on weight instantly. I felt guilt and disappointment in myself for not having enough will power not to eat it. Then I would over eat. Then I would hate on myself even more.
I am sorry if the above eating cycle and descriptive terms has scared any one, but I know so many of you relate to it (too many of you). You are not alone.
This is the new modern day syndrome of disordered eating.
This cycle is what caused me to have a very turbulent and sad relationship with my body.
So many of us forget what a powerful impact our thoughts have on our body, on both a spiritual and chemical level. Your thoughts can and will manifest into physical bodily stress. And Stress is the number one health killer in my opinion. And for so many- the number one weight gainer.
Mindful Eating & Intuitive Eating will change your life and uplift your health! Your weight, digestion and mental state is sure to improve.
How to become a Mindful eater:
1. Relax with food. Sit down in a calm environment. Eat your meal away from the TV, phone and computer. Breathe before you eat. Give thanks to the meal you have in front of you as you are lucky to have it. Chew each bite until it is liquid. Put the knife and fork down between mouthfuls. The plate is not running away.
2. Respect your hunger and fullness. Eat what your body needs: At first it can be a hard know what your body needs, but becoming more in touch with your body will help you to understand your hunger more. Before each meal choice, take a few deep breaths, and get centered in yourself. Close your eyes and ask yourself what you really need to eat in that moment. What is your body really hungry for? Or does something emotional pop up? If your stomach is feeling empty and hungry- go ahead and eat of course. If not- do something else delicious, such as a walk, watch your favourite TV show or have a long shower. Make some herbal tea!
Think about the fact that your stomach is the size of your fist- not very big! Think about this when you are eating. When you begin to chew your food more slowly you will start to feel when your stomach has reached its limit. ( Slow eating helps your brain to signal to your body when it is full). Stop eating at this point and don’t worry because you have your next meal coming a little later. Food is abundant. Remember that.
3. Make food choices that honor your health and foods that make you feel well. Food should make you feel good, even AFTER you’ve finished eating it. The instant gratification of a grease/sugar/salt bomb will be followed by queasy regret and poor energy and health outcomes. Remember good food makes you feel good. Its just that simple.
4. Be kind to yourself. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy all day, everyday. You will not suddenly endure a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one indulgent meal. What we’re interested in is building positive habits of mind, a sense of strong self-satisfaction and joy. We can support this journey with our dietary and lifestyle choices, and in the end; it’s those habits that count. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters. Your body is there for you- supporting yourself as much as possible. This is a lifestyle.
5. Make Peace with Food When you teach yourself to PAY ATTENTION to you, you can give yourself permission to eat. You can TRUST YOURSELF. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, you’re treating yourself like a rebellious child – pretending that you don’t have control over your own body and its desires. This kind of split-personality thinking, where you ‘forbid’ yourself treats can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, binging. I used to obsess about each and every food that passed my lips and it only ever did more harm than good.
6. Get off the Diets. Say goodbye to fad diets…. They clearly don’t work! Or we would all be on it and stay on it right? Reject the Diet Mentality. Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. They are all manipulative lies. They are the reason why we have a complicated relationship with food. It makes me angry!
7. Replace the negative mental clatter. Let go of the food battle in your head: There is no good girl vs. bad girl, no cheater vs. good dieter. There is only choice. And the choice is yours. Replace the negative statements such as, “I am going to put on weight now” with positive affirmations such as, “This food is going to nourish my body. My body needs these nutrients to function properly. “My body knows how to break down this food and use it.” This will empower you on so many levels.
8. Let go of what you ate yesterday. Today is a new day! So many of us punish ourselves because of our past health choices and then we ‘give up’ and put ourselves down. And then we make bad health choices because we feel so bad about ourselves. It’s a terrible viscous cycle of guilt, self-loathing and feelings of disappointment. We think so black and white!
Remember your body listens to what you do most of the time, not sometimes. The guilt we feel is so debilitating. Instead of feeling ‘guilty’ about your last meal- challenge that same thought into something more positive and powerful like, “My body can handle one day/meal of bad eating” or Today is a new day. I learnt from yesterday and I am going to make even better health choices today.”
Our thoughts play a big role in our health and the stress we manifest from these bad thoughts are likely to be worse for our bodies than the ‘bad’ food itself. Look at your past with love and a learning experience to better yourself.
Let’s work towards building a good relationship with our bodies.