My first thought when I see the word “mindfulness” is that I don’t have time for that. It sounds like patience, practice, and hard work. I picture sitting on a mountaintop, “omm-ing” with the back of my hands resting on my knees, pinching my middle fingers against my thumbs.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/adrasteia9/45038778/”>Adrasteia9</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a>
And yet developing mindfulness has been the single most important skill that I’ve used to help overcome the desire to overeat, or to eat when I’m not hungry.
Don’t worry: this doesn’t mean that you need to hike up a mountain in order to receive more clarity about your food choices.
Mindfulness is a really simple yet powerful practice that will no doubt impact your life, if you let it. Mindfulness is being present and aware of the current moment. It is living in your body instead of in your head. It is noticing your thoughts and bodily sensations, and noticing how they change from moment to moment.
Mindfulness is recognizing that after too much ice cream, your body doesn’t feel good.
It is hearing the wind rustle the trees as you walk through the woods.
It is feeling your fingertips against the keys of your keyboard as they type.
It is noticing the moment you feel satisfied while eating, the moment in which you would no longer be hungry if you put your fork down.
Practicing mindfulness is about reigning in your thoughts, even if just for a moment, so that you can refocus your attention on the present world around you. It’s probably the best way to start being in more control of your actions. resource This doesn’t mean you won’t have desires or urges for food, or that you won’t get lost in your thoughts sometimes, but that you can determine your actions, your behaviors, based on a truer evaluation of what you need and want.
For example, I often recommend that my new training clients keep a food log when they start working with me. I’ve got several reasons for wanting to see what they eat on a daily basis, but mostly I want them to see what they eat. Most people can’t tell you what they had for breakfast yesterday because it was rushed, skipped, or they didn’t count how many times they refilled their cereal bowl (totally something that I used to do on a daily basis!). Aside from being accountable to another person for what they eat, my clients have to notice what they eat and how they felt in response to eating it: emotionally, physically, and mentally.
So how do you begin? When you commit to keeping a food journal to improve your mindfulness and relationship with food, I strongly suggest that you use a pen and paper journal instead of an online calorie tracker. Write down what you eat, estimate the portion sizes, the times at which you eat, and note any unusual sensations (such as digestive discomfort) in your body or significant emotions you experience throughout the day. See how your body responds to the different foods that you eat. (If fat loss is your goal, the food journal is a powerful tool that you can use to see how what you eat affects your scale weight, body fat percentage, and/or circumference measurements over the course of a week or two. However, if tracking any of these is going to make you obsess, then just go by the fit of your clothes and your overall emotional state.) This is an excellent exercise in figuring out which foods work best for you, your goals, and your psyche. It’s also a wonderful habit that can help you reframe negative thoughts when you may have them, identify your biggest challenges, and celebrate your little victories as well.
The second practice you can use to starting honing your mindfulness skills is an exercise in mindful eating. I want you to spend budecort inhaler price 10 full minutes going through these steps:
1) Find an almond, grape, raisin, or some other small, smaller than bite-sized nibble of food.
2) Hold it in the palm of your hand. Do any feelings arise? What do you notice about the appearance of the almond? Imagine you had to describe it to someone who had never seen it. What is the texture like against your skin? Where did the almond come from? How was it made? Who else might’ve had to help get this almond from the earth to your palm?
3) Bring the almond towards your face. Does it have a scent? If you touch it to your lips, does it feel cool or warm?
4) Put the almond in your mouth, but don’t bite it yet. Note the flavor of the unchewed food. See if the flavor changes just by being in your mouth for a moment or two. Does it feel hard, soft, bumpy, smooth?
5) Take a small bite of the almond. Does that change the flavor? How chewy or hard is it?
6) If possible, swallow just the small bite from the almond. What do you notice about swallowing? A sense of satisfaction or relief from anticipation? Has the feel of the almond changed after being in your mouth for a few moments?
7) Chew the rest of the almond fully, until it is fully ground up in your mouth, before swallowing.
What did you think about the exercise overall? Did you ever realize you could eat so slowly?? J The first time I did this, I noticed that I felt an immediate anxiety in just holding the almond without being able to eat it. There was the urge to just toss the almond in my mouth, like I have done hundreds of times before without noticing. I felt what it was like to be uncomfortable, and sit with my discomfort as I waited out the urge to eat.
Let me know if you try either of these exercises in the comments below, of if you’ve ever tried them before, and how they work for you! Both are excellent ways to bring yourself back to the present moment, and to begin to develop an awareness about your eating behaviors and desires.
Always here to help,
PS For more ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine, follow me over on Instagram where I’m posting my mindful moments each day. I’d love to see how you stay mindful, too — join in using the hashtag #mindfulmoments!