Often the messages that we recieve in our families can be....if you're hungry.....EAT! If you're sad....EAT! If you're celebrating....EAT! If you're scared....EAT! If you're tired.....EAT! If you are scared to be sexual and enjoy your body......EAT! If you have energy to burn but you think that you can't take time away from your family to burn it off.....EAT! If you're mad and you can't let it out......EAT! If you're scared because you just got mad and you don't know how the other person will react.....EAT! Hahahaha
So it can be hard to know what you're feeling and then eat just to fuel your body and enjoy the food. This process of eating to stuff emotions or bodily sensations is called emotional eating. It is eating in response to certain emotions and belief systems that remain unexamined. To get out of it you need to slow down enough to notice when you are consciously choosing to eat and when you are eating unconsciously. Once you identify those patterns, then you can begin to notice what the messages and feelings are underneath the unconscious eating. Once those become more conscious then you can choose what a healthier belief or solution is and practice implementing that option. For example, if you have a tendency towards overeating when you are tired then it is helpful if you can check in at night and ask yourself when you reach for food after dinner if you need to go to bed instead.
The mindfulness process ceases to be about judgement and instead becomes.....hmmm.....what is this about for me? What do I want to choose?
Societal pressures regarding marketing and peer pressure is called eating as a result of external pressure. We internalize THOUSANDS of messages daily about how and why we should eat various things and don't have the time to stop and analyse whether these messages are realistic, correct or in our best interest. It's just too much information! So unless we slow down and notice we may not be aware how much this marketing driven, capatilist society is driving our process around food.
These two pictures capture well what I am talking about.
To prevent being externally driven you need to be mindful and aware of your choices. Notice the choices you are making. Notice if you are eating because of an internal physical sensation or if you have a hard time saying 'No' to friends and family.
So mindful eating gives you the skills you need to deal with eating impulsively in response to internal or external pressures. It puts you in charge of your choices, instead of you acting on them without thought.
Fundamentally, mindful eating involves the following skills:
- Eating slowly and without distraction.
- Listening to physical hunger cues and eating only until you’re full.
- Distinguishing between actual hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating.
- Engaging your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds, textures and tastes.
- Learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food.
- Learning how to set boundaries with yourself and others.
- Eating to maintain overall health and well-being.
- Noticing the effects food has on your feelings and figure.
- Appreciating your food.
*****Email me if you would like to join a mindfulness group about eating.***** I'll run one if there is enough positive response.