How many times have you zoned out in front of the television, only to discover an empty bag/bottle/carton of _______ (substitute your current no-no food) sitting in front of you and you have NO MEMORY of having consumed it, let alone enjoying it?
Come on, we've all done it.
It's OK - well, actually, it's not OK, but we'll talk about that in a minute.
Mindless eating is a favorite recreational past time. It fills time and space and those emotional holes that sometimes cry out for attention.
Mindlessness is a mindset that's narrow, inflexible, repetitive and automatic. It blocks development.
But there's an antidote to all this - it's called "Mindfulness."
"Mindfulness," is a Buddhist term meaning being conscious and aware of everything we think and do ~ from the food we consume to the people we associate with. It is a simple yet profound approach to relating to your food and life and aging.
What are the benefits of Mindful eating?
1. No more Cheetos bags stuffed into the couch
2. Less anxiety around food
3. Reduced amount of overeating
4. Smaller food bills
5. Increased sense of calm
6. A break from negative people and situations
7. Thinking creatively about everyday life
Here are Ten Easy Steps to Mindful Eating:
STEP 1: Make a conscious choice to eat. Eat only when you're hungry. Sometimes fatigue or dehydration can be mistaken for hunger. Eat to fill your stomach, not an emotional hole. If you're lonely, call a friend, or put on an old movie and have a good cry or laugh.
STEP 2: Ask your body what it's hungry for. Be willing to experiment: eat what your body tells you it wants to eat and do it wholeheartedly.
STEP 3: Express gratitude before eating. This can be in whatever form feels most comfortable to you. For some it would be saying grace, for others a brief meditation. Breathing and relaxing the body will allow the food to enter you in a more loving way.
STEP 4: Eat with awareness. Be conscious when you eat and pay attention to all your senses. Chew food completely before swallowing. Pause before taking the next bite.
STEP 5: Listen for feedback. See how what you ate and how much you ate makes your body feel and make note of it. Remember, it takes 20 minutes before your stomach registers fullness.
STEP 6: Stop when you're satisfied ~ not full, but satisfied. Try to learn the difference.
STEP 7: Release the meal. After the meal, forget about food or anything that has to do with eating for awhile and move on to the next activity. Avoid labeling food as "good" or "bad" depending on your weight or food choices on any given day. By letting go of such judgments, you de-escalate the importance of any one food experience.
STEP 8: Breathe. Be aware of your breath throughout your meal. Take deep breaths, filling your lungs all the way down to your abdomen. Let oxygen nourish you as well as the food.
STEP 9: Drink water. Water is the universal symbol of spirit. Let it flow through you and cleanse your body of toxins by aiding digestion. Some say that it's better to drink before and after, but not during the meal. See what feels best to you.
STEP 10: Expand your mindfulness by practicing kindness and generosity to others and yourself. Practice mindful consumption by being aware of what magazines, books, plays, TV, and movies you consume, as well as the people you choose to have around you.
Our bodies have an intelligence that's far superior to our brains. Sometimes the best thing to do is to stop thinking and just listen to our bodies.
Have a happy, healthy and very mindful day!!
Carol Moss, LCSW, Life Coach
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