MINDFUL EATING IS NOT EASY

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is hard to live with. Most days, I have energy enough to  focus on only one thing at a time, hence my not having posted for a while. I apologize to my followers.

Another factor for my spotty posts is my tendency toward perfection. If I am not succeeding, I feel ashamed to post my failures. Yet, failure as well as success are common to everyone, aren’t they? So, on this note, my post is about the struggle I’m having with eating Mindfully at the moment.

The change of season from summer to autumn always effects my eating habits in that I tend to crave starchy foods. My body also becomes sluggish, especially in the morning when I wake up, breathing in heated air. It has been a battle to feel “bright eyed and bushy tailed” lately. I’ve been aware of having low mood which of course has a bearing on my eating habits.

This week I’ve been craving crunchy food – not carrot or celery sticks, but crunchy pretzels and high carb nibbles. I simply couldn’t resist my grandkids’ Cheezie puff snacks even though I don’t particularly like them. I felt somewhat guilty because I knew I wasn’t making the right choice, but yet I felt I could not help myself.

Instead of stopping in my tracks and doing a Mindful Eating observation using the Hunger Scale technique, I got into emotional eating that spilled over into a mini binge by 4:30pm. I had a second helping of Cheezie puffs plus a whole bar of chocolate. On analyzing what had triggered this binge, the trigger was clearly heart hunger. Earlier, I had been an interview subject for someone doing research and although I was not conscious of it at the time, I had brought painful memories to the fore.

My “mindless” eating and bingeing clearly stemmed from heart and mind hunger. This is what my Hunger Scale looked like.

Hunger Scale 1 to 10 (1 = least hungry, 10 = most hungry)

 Eye  Nose  Mouth  Stomach  Cellular  Mind Heart 
0 0 10 2 2 10 10

How did I get myself out of that funk? I acknowledged that I didn’t make a healthy choice and took time out to meditate.  Jon Kabat Zinn’s definition of Mindfulness is “…paying attention in a particular way; on purpose,
in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” Without blame, judgement, or recrimination, I sat quietly to find out what was going on in my mind and heart and to just let those thoughts pass by and simply “be” without attaching any narrative to them. While it’s not easy, I try to be aware of slowing down and taking time to be mindful of what I put in my mouth and why.

In her book, Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food,  Dr. Jan Chozen Bay writes, (by cultivating Mindful eating) you could gain a simple joy with food and an easy pleasure in eating that are your birthrights as a human being. We all have to eat. It is a basic requirement of being alive. Unfortunately there are few daily activities that are so loaded with pain and distress, with guilt and shame, with unfulfilled longing and despair than the simple act of putting energy into our bodies. When we learn to eat mindfully, our eating can be transformed from a source of suffering to a source of renewal, self-understanding, and delight.”

Do post me a comment. I would love to hear of your struggles and/or triumphs about your relationship with food.

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2 thoughts on “MINDFUL EATING IS NOT EASY

  1. Love this Jennifer. You are open and say if as it is. Which, of course, is mindful – ‘as it is’ – nothing added or taken away. You identify how much our feelings can take over the most natural things, and distort our thinking and vice versa. Thank you x

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  2. I appreciate you comment, Marina. You’re right, feelings have such a powerful influence on the mind. It is therefore important to practice Mindfulness – staying in awareness of what is happening in our minds and bodies. Checking the “weather patterns” of the mind as JKZ says. I keep having to repeat the mantra “I am not my feelings and my feelings are not me” to override my feelings controlling my mind.

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