Tag Archive | food addiction

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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And How SHOULD Things Be Going for You Right Now?

Allison’s 22 year-old daughter is standing her up for Thanksgiving. Or so she thinks.

The true facts: It is 2 days before Thanksgiving and Sally, the daughter, hasn’t returned Allison’s calls nor responded to messages on Facebook for the last 4 days. Allison has an agenda/expectation that Sally SHOULD respond, so Allison can ask a few important questions: What special dish can I make you? Are you bringing a friend? Is the friend vegetarian? Allison feels these are normal, sane questions and expectations. No, actually, Allison is absolutely CONVINCED these are normal, sane questions and expectations.

Allison worries. Thoughts like She’s in trouble. She’s mad at me. She is so disrespectful and I should have called her on it last time this happened. I can’t stand this. Now what am I supposed to do?

Allison loses some of last night’s sleep stewing about it. Decides to have some extra coffee and a muffin on top of her normal breakfast – after all, she’s tired and she deserves a little something to help her get through the busy day-before-Thanksgiving.

The extra coffee and sugar zing her tired adrenal glands and blood sugar. Up she goes into a whirl of energy. She forgets her list, remembers this when she pushes the cart through the Hannaford’s door, says OH SHIT too loud, stomps out, drives home, gets the list, drives too fast back to the store

How does the rest of the day go?

What do you think she bought to eat in the grocery store because she “deserved something” or “needed something?”

 How Should It Be?

When we have a picture of how it SHOULD be, we have forgotten several key truths. #1. We’re not in control of all the factors in the universe. #2. We never really know what it’s like to be another person. #3. No matter what we think and predict, it won’t be like that, because we can’t envision the future.

(this is a fun game to play with yourself: deliberately predict a future event, and compare how it actually turns out with your prediction)

There’s a key spiritual principle here:  How it IS is how it SHOULD be.

In Buddhist teachings, this is the teaching of karma: zillions of causes and conditions come together in THIS one moment creating THIS, however it is right now.

And what we are in charge of is NOT how it is right now, but how we RESPOND or REACT.

And in Christian teachings, there is the Serenity Prayer:

     Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. 

(Interesting that in all the 12-step programs of recovery from addiction, the Serenity Prayer is said at each meeting)

Accessing Grace.

So if it is in-the-present-moment where we actually have the possibility of real choice, what can wake us up to that? Good ol’ suffering, of course.

Hearing all the SHOULDS. Feeling the controlling feeling in her bodymind: tight jaw, mind so sure of itself. Noticing her emotional state: worrying, blaming, resenting.

If Allison had been able to at any point in her moments of struggle realize that she really was suffering and she really did not want to be suffering, she could have

  • paused
  • taken a breath
  • made a phone call to a support person
  • said the most basic of prayers:  HELP!
  • broken the spell of the Reactivity
  • made some difference choices
Practice.
Often when we wake up to how its our own patterns that are the root of our struggles and problems, we go straight to self-blame.
Not helpful. Recovery is simply a one-day-at-a-time Practice. Awareness Practice. Self-Understanding Practice. Kindness Practice.
Meditation and journalling* really really help.
Take good care,
Anya
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*RECOMMENDED: 

Your Body Speaks Journal

What You Have Been Waiting ForA Great Tool For Healing!!!
Here is a great way to track your food and your feelings. Our journal is the perfect way to give your body its voice and learn to listen to its wisdom.