How to Eat for Joy…What is Mindful Eating and why should I do it?
Yesterday I sat down on the couch with a book and a bag of popcorn. Kettlecorn actually, so I hit BOTH salty and sweet. Yum. Guess how much I ate? Three quarters of the bag. Was I Eating Mindfully? Sort of. I actually knew when I sat down that I was going to let myself snack as long as I wanted. So the mindfulness happened before I opened my mouth. Sometimes I like to let myself do that, and because I planned it I did not feel bad about it. I enjoyed the experience– but on the other hand, I didn’t really notice the taste of that popcorn after the first bite.
Mindfulness has a lot of definitions. Generally it requires focusing your mind on the present moment. You can use many different anchors, be it breath, or body sensation, or sight/smell/hearing/taste. If you are being mindful you can really answer, “What is happening NOW,” without hesitation or needing to think about it. Usually what takes us away from the present moment is our thoughts– our Executive Committee has a tendency to continuously present plans for the future, while our Emotional Processing Unit is always sending past experiences to be mulled over and analyzed. Our internal chatter is usually in the past or the future, and very rarely has much (anything) to do with the present moment. We Eat for Joy when we stop thinking and start experiencing.
If eating was only about getting nutrients then you may as well drink a Soylent shake and keep moving. But for most of us, we like to EAT. Taste is one of the 5 ways we get information about the world and we are primed to ENJOY IT. Even those who eat with nutritional content as a primary factor still want their food to taste good. The question becomes when has your “habit brain” taken over and you stop noticing what your food tastes like, or whether it tastes like anything at all, actually. When you take the time to savor your eating experience it changes eating from a ‘needs must, this is good, that is bad, now I feel guilty’ to ‘I eat when I am hungry, and I eat food that satisfies my body and my mind.’
How to Eat Mindfully
Leave the Judgement. It is not helpful.
Know why you are eating….for hunger, longing, social experience.
Clear some mental clutter in order to enjoy the sensory delight. See, touch, smell, and taste.
Stop eating when you don’t notice how it tastes. Remind yourself you can always start again whenever you feel like it.
The Benefits…Have you ever wanted to have your chocolate cake– AND eat it too!
Less guilt. You know why you are eating and you choose it.
You are going to enjoy yourself. Decide to Eat for Joy.
Food will end up being less junky– if you are going to eat a cupcake then it might as well be an AMAZING cupcake. Hostess is not going to cut it.
You are probably going to lose weight…people who ate chocolate cake and felt guilty gained weight. People who ate chocolate cake and didn’t feel guilty–DIDN’T gain weight.
How to start…Do what works for you.
Write down what you are eating, and why.
Choose what you are going to eat and how much you are going to eat.
Pretend you have to justify your food to a “Joy Committee.” (Please Your Honor, I only ate without noticing because I was in a rush…)
Chew your food more.
If you notice yourself judging your choices, visualize that thought as an annoying gremlin and politely ask it to leave.
Take a moment to give thanks for the food and the delight it gives you.
Every time you eat, it’s a new opportunity to notice the experience. Let food be fun and delicious. You can eat for joy.
Find more tips here: http://www.savorthebook.com/