Mind your food, not your feelings.
Our feelings come and go, but our food choices stick around, usually around our thighs, long after we’re no longer in the mood for whatever we’ve chosen. Even though the rush of emotions and the cravings have subsided, we still face the consequences, or benefits, of what we did, or did not, decideto eat, in the heat of the moment. Mindful eating is known as the most rebellious of all the dietary theories, as it is unconventional among the restrictive calorie counting, protein packing, carb concerned, paleo perfect, and time consuming meal plans and programs, and it is considered the anti diet. It is not about how many controlled portions or nutrient dense proportions, but more about pondering the purpose your food serves, where it came from, how it got here, and when and where you consume it. It’s all about eating thoughtfully and with awareness from start to finish. It’s putting thought around preparing your meals, and attentive when you consume your food, and aware of the effects your food has on your body. I have found that the easiest way to incorporate mindfulness into your diet, is to start with a mindfulness practice as a daily habit. For instance, starting your day with a mindfulness meditation, or beginning a yoga class, even just a few times a week.
After I had been practicing yoga regularly, for about three month, I was shocked at the level of awareness I suddenly had increasing about my body, and in particular, my diet. I had always eaten very unrestricted, (i.e. Cheetos and meatloaf, pizza, steak, etc) but I unexpectedly developed an aversion to meat. Perplexed by my sudden disdain for turkey, and delight with tofu, I recalled that I had been doing a short meditation and mantra at the end of my yoga sequences, that was about having compassion “for all beings.” As humorous as it may seem, I began to see my food, as actual beings, with actual faces, which caused me to have deeper feelings, and a renewed regard for their lives. But it was a very strange feeling, because it almost felt like an unconscious decision, yet it was the most conscious choice I’d ever felt like I had made. I even recall my mom saying something about my always bare feet, to which I replied, “if I’m wearing socks or shoes, I don’t feel connected to the earth,” without even giving the statement any forethought and to which I gave myself a little giggle. But by just doing an hour long yoga class, three or four times a week, I became so much more aware of my physical and emotional wellbeing, and I focused more effortlessly on choices that were in alignment with what my body actually needed, rather than giving into frivolous, and diet disastrous, desires. So I encourage you to try incorporating meditation or yoga into your daily routine and notice how it overflows and spills into other areas of your life, including your diet. Becoming more mindful doesn’t have to be limited to just your eating habits, you can find ways to focus your attention on the present moment, throughout your day. If you can’t find time to be more present and direct your attention and awareness all day yet, but your anxious to make an effort with your diet, try using some of the tips from the infographic below, and let me know in the comments which ones you find useful!