Your Path to Mindful Eating
An excerpt from The Complete Book of Mindful Living by Robert Butera
Now is the time to engage with your own path toward mindful eating. Here are some guiding principles to help you as you move toward positive change.
What do you want to be healthy for? Examine your reasons for wanting to heal your relationship with food and your body. Perhaps you are tired of your energy being wasted in worry, not feeling well physically, or the drain on your self-esteem caused by eating habits that are not in alignment with your values about health. Think about a better channel for your energy. Where will that energy go? Health is a condition of mind and body that frees your energy toward something larger than yourself. Consider what that might be in your life.
Honestly listen for what is best for you. Rather than prescribing some draconian diet plan for yourself, I recommend making a few small, healthful changes, listening to your body and intuition. This is a long-term lifestyle, not a quick fix. This is the only way to create sustainable change. Trust yourself to know where to begin and when you are ready to build upon your changes. The point here is that you are consulting your intuitive sense of what is right for you rather than following a prescriptive plan from outside yourself.
Start a relaxation program. I am not suggesting that you need to start meditating an hour a day if you are new to it, but would you consider a period of sitting in silence, bringing attention inside, for five minutes in the morning? This creates a foundation of self-awareness upon which you can build over time, and it will translate to your relationship with food. Your body intelligence will grow as you pay more attention to yourself beneath your skin. As your body intelligence grows, it is natural to want to support your body with what you eat.
Calm down before meals. Focus on deepening your breath before you begin to eat. You might need some sort of reminder to help you not surrender to the momentum of a meal and to stay present to the food. Putting your fork down between bites, chewing your food more carefully, and pausing for a few moments can all be very helpful practices. These tips sound very simple, but in my own experience they can be challenging to implement. Our ingrained responses to hunger are tricky to rewire. Have respect for this and try not to give yourself up for lost if you aren’t successful with this at first. Instead, scale back your goals and perhaps just focus on becoming more aware of your patterns.
Have awareness of the influence food has on your body. Finally, at the risk of contradicting my suggestion to consult your intuition, some dietary tips that might be helpful are getting informed regarding the effects of both simple and complex carbohydrates on your blood sugar and gut health. The roles of inflammation, your microbial blueprint, and running on sugar as your primary source of fuel all influence mood, energy, and eating habits. The more you are balanced in this way, the easier it will be to act from a place of mindfulness. I wish you well along your path to healing your relationship with food and your body. Remember, all is as it should be. You are exactly where you need to be. Namaste.
Melissa Grabau, PhD, is the author of The Yoga of Food. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Duquesne University in 1998. She became licensed as a psychologist in California in 2001 and has been in private practice since 2003. More recently she has broadened her existential/humanistic background in psychology to incorporate her long-standing interest in yoga and Eastern psychology. She is a certified yoga teacher and currently integrates mind-body techniques in her work with clients. Visit her at TheYogaofFood.net.
From Llewellyn's Complete Book of Mindful Living by Robert Butera, PhD and Erin Byron, MA. © 2016 by Robert Butera, PhD and Erin Byron, MA. Used by permission from Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd., www.Llewellyn.com.