So you’ve seen a workshop on Mindful Eating posted and are intrigued. What does that mean?
Q: Does it mean I meditate before I eat?
A; Possibly, it couldn’t hurt. It might be more accurate to say you pause a moment before you eat to check in with yourself, the way you might ask a dear friend- when you really want to know, asking “how are you?”. In that pause you might find out that you’re not actually hungry, but are upset, or tired. In that pause you might find out what you are really hungry for (rest, connection, stretching your body), and then offer that to yourself, instead of settling for second best- some food you don’t- deep down in your heart of hearts actually want! And in the end are filled once again with regret while the original problem is still there.
Q: Is there a special diet involved, where I eat only healthy foods really slowly- while not multi tasking? Which I don’t have time for by the way. I have to eat while driving, at the computer, or watching a television show. And I hate feeling deprived!”
A: No it does not mean that, although from time to time, when you can, it does help a lot to simply eat when you are eating. What we know from research is when people are tuned into eating and staying connected to their bodies while doing it, they usually, enjoy it more, feel more satisfied (because they did not miss the experience) and they actually eat less. I have heard this myself from anecdotal reports that in general people who practice this, enjoy food more, make better choices and eat less without a restrictive diet drill sergeant telling them what they can and can’t eat, how much , when, etc.
Lots of research shows that a restrictive diet is not good for your body or your soul. The saying is; “For every diet there is an equal and opposite binge just waiting to happen.” I bet all you dieters out there know this very well. Michelle May, M.D.-physician and author of the wonderful book “Eat What you Love and Love What you Eat” calls it the “eat, diet, rebel, repeat cycle”. She’s a self confessed Weight Watchers failure, but for years she kept trying even though her own evidence showed it was not working for the long haul. Sound familiar?
Mindful Eating has a whole lot more to do with your relationship to yourself, your body and self-kindness than you might have imagined. I’ve heard so many people say, I hate my thighs, or fill in some other body part. Listen to that for a minute- that’s harsh! What’s to hate? Don’t they get you up from a chair, help you walk, climb stairs, ride a bike – drive a car? So while this workshop will be about food of course but only a bit, and not at all about diets (except to mention that for the long haul research clearly shows they don’t work especially if motivated by self hate)! It will primarily focus on practices developed by Self-Compassion researcher Kristin Neff, who finds that it is a lot more possible to make change through self kindness and acceptance than self criticism, and she has the research to back that up. Learning to “motivate ourselves with compassion” as she calls it is the corner stone of this workshop as well as developing a much friendlier relationship with your poor body, I say ‘poor’ because let’s be honest, aren’t we kind of hard on them? It will involve some short meditation and movement practices, as we know that these work very well to regulate emotion , so you will come away with more tools to use than turning to food when what you really want is some feeling of calm, connection and love.