Tag Archive | bingeing

MINDFUL EATING

If you are a compulsive eater, as I am, you know about mindless eating. Maybe you can’t not watch TV or be online while eating. Your hand and fork may be feeding you the next bite before you’ve quite swallowed the first, and you had no idea your hand did that. You might have no idea when you are full, and feel hungry when your body and mind are actually feeling something else (tired, sad, bored, mad and so on). How many times have you just caught the sight of something good — a beautiful dessert, or just a bag of M&Ms at the gas station — and found yourself not choosing to eat but just eating?

I’m teaching a class at the University of Vermont this semester titled MINDFUL EATING. Wonderful that the UVM Health Sciences Department is expanding its offerings to include mindfulness for health and wellbeing. And wonderful that college kids want to learn mindful eating!

What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is being Here, Aware — aware inside ourselves of our body, breath, feelings & thoughts, and aware of our moment-by-moment perception of the outside world.  Here is always moving, like a river, so letting the mind ride on the flow of the breath is a lovely, basic mindfulness practice. And of course, we are distracted over and over again; in fact, the practice of mindfulness is the practice of waking up from distraction, beginning the practice again, ad infinitum. The key here is radical acceptance: whatever is here, it is what is Here right now, and it’s ok, just as it is. The other key is self-kindness and kindness toward whatever arises.

Happily, rich sources of learning about mindfulness abound.
Here are two faves:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nwwKbM_vJc; http://www.tarabrach.com/audioarchives-guided-meditations.html

And what is mindful eating? Mindful eating asks us to expand the focus of our awareness to all the ways our bodymind is involved in eating: sight, smell, taste, hands, mouth, tongue, throat, stomach. We see the food, smell it, take our time appreciating it before we put it in our mouth. We are aware of how hungry we are, and we can tell when we’ve had enough. We chew slowly, staying connected to body and breath while refraining from engaging in distractions, including the distraction of thinking. We swallow and notice the feeling of the food traveling down to the stomach. We rest and listen to the tummy and its response to being fed. We allow the space and rhythm of breathing to be a part of the practice.

PRACTICE is the key thing. We don’t “get it right” (say hello to the Inner Perfectionist); we don’t “do it wrong (say hello to the Inner Critic). We practice, we have an experience, breath by breath, we are aware and we learn.

Here are two of my favorite sources about mindful eating: http://www.thecenterformindfuleating.org/;   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmtNPGZYWOI

Interested in learning Mindful Eating? Come in for a lesson anytime — or connect with me online on video!

May you learn to be peaceful about eating and enjoy your food.

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Using Hypnosis in Eating with Grace

Sylvia REALLY wanted to stop bingeing. She was a miracle: she’d survived an awful marriage and divorce, raised both her daughter and her granddaughter, and started exercising regularly after a heart attack scare. BUT she just loved sweets, and felt, given all she had been through, that she deserved “a little treat now and then.”

Her “little” treats ranged from eating a whole cheesecake in a weekend, to bags of candy at night, to daily pit stops at the candy shop near her job for a “little bag.”

Sylvia lapped up the learning about sugars, high glycemic index, sugar sensitivity syndrome (www.radiantrecovery.com) and she pretty quickly got the hang of eating a high protein breakfast and not skipping meals. And voila! She felt A LOT better and less “bingey.”

The after-dinner overeating continued though. In therapy, we uncovered two key roadblocks which grew out of difficult experiences in her past.

Sylvia grew up in a rural part of the state, quite poor. She had 7 siblings and you had to GRAB to get your hamburg off the plate in the middle of the table or somebody else would grab it. There were never seconds.

Whenever Sylvia ordered or bought food, whatever it was, it was the LARGE. “I don’t do MEDIUM or SMALL, never have and never will!” she asserted early on in our work together.

She was willing to try hypnosis. Just being able to relax that completely, that deeply, was “heaven.” She used the relaxation CD at night, and soon she could take a mini-break even at work and access that place of restoration.

Then we explored the LARGE. In hypnosis, Sylvia saw how profoundly the need for LARGE connected to her sense of food security: it felt like her very life depended on it. Using imagery, accessing her life-force desire to eat in ways that truly fed her life, Sylvia was able to UNHOOK her food security from LARGE and release this old core belief. Then her unconscious and her life force healing wisdom made connections with eating what felt right in her body, and having choices about what and when to eat. She visualized and felt and enacted different scenes that fit with this while in trance, and we anchored the new beliefs and confidence into her body/mind and in to the future.

The weekend after that session, Sylvia found a delicate teacup and saucer in an antique shop that made her feel “very special” and bought several “special” relaxation teas. She rarely eats after dinner; instead, she often has a special relaxing time with her own special self, just taking some time for herself, sipping her tea.

I ran into Sylvia last week (she graduated from therapy a few months ago). She’s keeping up “her prescription” of her healthy eating, exercise and self-care plan. She was beaming.

 

 NOW OFFERING HYPNOSIS TO SUPPORT YOUR EATING WITH GRACE PROGRAM & FOR WEIGHT LOSS

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Connect Eating with Grace with your long-distance friends and family.

Calming & Centering Practice

What an exquisite November day — hard frost, pure blue sky, the last gold-yellow leaves hanging on in crisp wind. Long angled sun, glinting; long dark shadows….   Pause, look, appreciate, breathe.  Ahhh….

Rosa says: I think maybe the mindfulness practices are making a difference. Yesterday I did not rise up and yell at Parker, the mean and demanding son-in-law.  I just calmly answered his question and got off the phone. And with Jerry (the demanding absent-minded husband), I found myself taking a long slow breath before responding. It was the fifth time he asked me the same question!

Rosa leans back, then admits: But I really am impatient with the practices. My mind wanders. It takes too much time. I’d rather be ____________ (doing almost anything else).

Rosa signed up for the mindfulness class to help her with her night bingeing and lifetime of depression and low self-esteem. The practices are hard for her to do. Why should she? What really is the connection between 1/2 hour of some calming and centering practice, and being less reactive in relationships, including the relationship with food and feelings?

Hang out with a baby or a little kid, and watch how their attention bounces from red toy to your silver eyeglasses to light playing on the floor. Bouncebouncebounce. Bouncebounce. Sense impressions — sights, noises, sensations, tastes, smells — OOeeee! The world is Juicy!

We grownups have at least learned to sit down and read a page of something, to keep our eyes somewhat focused on someone who is speaking to us. Or have we? Out attention bounces too — try to sit still without moving anything other than your breathing for 5 minutes. And if the idea frightens you, wonder why.

What’s going on for most of us most of the time is Bouncing. Flitting. Bounding. Our animal bodymind is hardwired to use our senses to detect what we want to grasp (safety, food, shelter) and what we need to reject (danger). Our senses are busy!

Human beings have evolved: we are learning, miraculously, to be able to witness the reactions of our senses to things, and restrain (sometimes!) from just acting out our impulses.

It is definitely a higher state of evolution than the baby or the cat. And the baby and the cat inside us want to do anything but sit still, breathe and listen.

Back to Rosa. What courage it takes to just stick it out, keep her commitment to daily practice, and allow the questions to bubble up for examination. Is this really helping me? How?

Those of us who do have a daily practice (meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, etc) are not exactly saints you know. Nor are we wizards who have figured out how to manifest more time in the 24-hour day.

My experience is that we keep coming back to the practice out of a clear seeing that it truly does make a Big Difference, in this one day, and over the months and years. Less Reactivity, More Kindness to Self and Others. Clearer Sense of Real Priorities — in life, and in this one day. Welcome Insights.

And for people who are hooked into repetitive self-destructive behaviors, the ability to Pause, to ride out the Urge, to hold one’s seat and breathe.

And for me, today, more space to appreciate right now the violet sky of the beginning of sunset on a beautiful day.

Take good care, Anya

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Food and Feelings

In the Basic Eating with Grace group last night, we did a journaling exercise in which you write out the Chain of Events that led to an unhappy eating episode — ate too much Halloween candy; binged on the stale donuts left out at work; work up at 1 am upset about something someone said and found myself chowing down on cold leftover lasagna.

Definition of unhappy: body feels bad after. Inner Critic is merciless: You blew it! How could you? AGAIN??????? (I am leaving the cusswords out here)

What really touched me: two people had nothing in the FEELINGS column. They knew what the behaviors were, what the Critical Mind was saying, even what the body felt, but EMOTIONS? Missing — no words for them.

Many of us grow up in families where emotional feelings are repressed, forbidden, denied, made to feel dangerous. What might happen if we had any idea what we were feeling? Well, remember what actually DID happen and you’ll find some clues about what you are afraid of.

In Cheryl’s family (NOT her real name — I never use names, and always make up stories from fragments of stories I’ve heard over the years, but keep people’s confidentiality sacred) feelings were a threat to her father, who was overworked and suffered himself from some trauma from the war. He had to keep his feelings under wraps. Noisy needy kids who cried or shouted set his jaw and shoulders tight; and sooner or later, he exploded. What does a child learn growing up in that kind of environment? FEELINGS ARE NOT SAFE AND ARE NOT TO BE EXPRESSED (among other things).

So, what we practice in Eating with Grace is beginning to bring a kind, compassionate awareness to the Feeling. Maybe we sit down with a cup of tea. Or lay down on the couch with a warm hand on our heart, or belly (cats and pillows are helpful!) Hello Feeling. I hear you. I hear what you are going through right now. It is ok. I’m listening. We can just rest here and make some space for you.

And resting for a while, we learn that feelings are not really dangerous.  They just need to be acknowledged, felt, accepted, heard.

Take very good care, Anya

 

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