Change One Thing and You Change Your Life: One bite, one breath at a time
Over the many years that I have practiced mindfulness, meditation, and yoga, what I have discovered is that the way you do one thing (whether it is eating, driving, yoga, gardening, etc.) is the way you show up for the rest of your life. For instance, if you are a distracted, emotional, quick eater, you are probably distracted, emotional, and quick in the rest of your life. If you are an angry, impatient driver, you are probably angry and impatient in the rest of your life. If you strive too hard on the yoga mat and end up hurting yourself, you probably strive too hard in the rest of your life. Get the picture? So, if you impact one part of your life, you will, in fact, be impacting other parts of your life.
As you probably know, I teach a mindful eating class called Eat for Life. What people tell me and that end of that that class is that they are surprised at what gets impacted in their lives besides eating. They mention that the class is equally about living and loving mindfully. While they learn to eat mindfully, they take those general mindfulness skills and apply them to their relationships with themselves and others, to their work, and to their play.
Besides relating mindful eating to the rest of your life, I believe that the rest of a person’s life impacts how they eat. That is why I address the entire person who shows up at the dinner table—their behaviors, thoughts/beliefs, and emotions. Your life is not lived in a vacuum. Each activity and interaction impact the whole. Indeed, your childhood experiences continue to impact your experiences well into adulthood. I have talked to people in their 80s who were still overcoming messages and beliefs they were taught as a child. “Clean your plate” is one belief that comes quickly to mind. Are you still listening to your mother tell you how to eat instead of listening to your own body?
Misconceptions about Mindful Eating
There are several misconceptions about mindful eating that I want to dispel.
- Mindful eaters don’t have chocolate or dessert. (FALSE) If this was true, I would have been fired as a mindful eating teacher a long time ago. Mindful eaters have no restrictions on their food. They choose their food based on a curious, kind investigation.
- Mindful eating is for weight loss. (FALSE) Mindful eating does not focus on weight but focuses on the experience of eating and the bodily signals that you have before, during, and after you eat. You are naturally guided to eat what the body wants and what would taste good. If the body loses weight as a result, that is not a problem, but it is not a focus on the practice. In fact, at the beginning of a mindful eating practice, you might even gain weight as you learn to overcome the restrictions of the diet culture. Over time, you will be able to let go of the diet culture mentality and come into a healed relationship with your body and your food.
- Mindful eating means “clean” eating. (FALSE) Honestly, I don’t even know what this really means, and I don’t want to google it. I just know that there are “wellness” professionals who profess the benefits of “clean” eating which is a masquerade for another diet. And we know that diets don’t work, “clean” or otherwise. When you go on a diet, you restrict what you eat and when you restrict you will eventually binge. It’s called the binge/restrict cycle.
- Mindful eaters never overeat. (FALSE) Mindful eaters generally eat until the body is almost full or full, but they also overeat at times. For instance, what if you were eating a fabulous meal at an amazing restaurant that you rarely get a chance to experience. I, for one, would probably eat a bit past my comfort level because it is so tasty. On a day-to-day basis, I listen to my hunger and satiety cues to stop eating, but sometimes you just want more!
- Mindful eating is boring. (FALSE) Mindful eating is the most amazing mindfulness practice I have ever experienced. You get to eat food that you pick and enjoy it an average of three or more times a day. How much better can that get? While I have reaped the benefits of mindfulness of breath meditations and mindful yoga, practicing mindfulness while eating is exploding with sensation. I think people are so used to doing many things at once, and the idea of just eating is foreign to them. As you learn to explore with curiosity, the practice truly comes alive.
Mindful eating is a great way to change your relationship with food and your body. It has the capacity to help you enjoy life more, be more present, and live in your body with more ease. It will help you live in alignment with your body’s wisdom and explore the world of food for delight and pleasure.
Have you ever been curious about mindful eating? Wondered what it really is? Wondered if it could benefit you? Thought to yourself “One day”? Then let “day one” be this fall by joining me for my next sessions of Eat for Life, a research-validated mindful eating program that has changed the lives of thousands across the world. Eat for Life is a holistic program that can put you in touch with your spiritual path as easily as any other program you might embark upon. I love teaching it and seeing the changes in people’s lives that attend. One class will be on Tuesday evening and one Wednesday mid-day. You can go here for more information and for the registration website.
Of course, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at MindfulRossy@gmail.com.