3 Tips For Practicing Mindfulness While Eating
In the last six years since the start of my eating disorder recovery, I've been pretty diligent in trying to make an effort not to skip meals along with the inevitable emotions that will surface at times when I interact with food. However, lately with the stress of an active lifestyle, I have found it harder to remember to enjoy and relax while eating, as it feels like it takes away time from other important things. Realizing that this could lead to falling into old patterns, I recently decided to take a mindfulness workshop whose topic was the art of eating with a clear mind, three times a day.
As I found this workshop beneficial, this particular blog is about me imparting you with what I've learned. While the topic of mindfulness is quite broad in its application, my particular reflections this week are about how one can learn to eat with attention and intention and practice mindfulness in the context of having a history of suffering from an eating disorder.
Mindfulness While Eating Begins with a Plan in Mind
I've come to realize that when I plan my meals ahead of time I instantly feel more comfortable. In this context, planning doesn't just mean anticipating the recipe or dish I'll be eating, but also with whom I'll share that meal and visualizing where I'll actually sit down to eat. I find that when I do that, I actually look forward to the meal and my stress level drops. This even allows me to cope should the situation change a bit for whatever reason. Planning also helps because it forces me to pay attention to my triggers and how I plan to avoid them while I eat, in turn, allowing me to consciously reduce my stress at mealtime.
Visualizing My Feelings Using Mindfulness While Eating
While it may seem hard to conceptualize until you try it, by visualizing my feelings in my mind, I'm able to actually debate myself when I see my thoughts starting to run away from me. This is an especially useful trick because it forces me to focus when I'm stressed, and that voice creeps up in my head. Once that happens, and I become conscious of it, I try as much as possible to visualize the feelings coming over me, forcing them into a beginning, middle, and end. While generally this trick can be used for any raw emotion, I have found that, for me, it is especially helpful in compartmentalizing the feelings of guilt and shame often associated with the stress at times experienced with eating.
Developing My Taste for Mindfulness While Eating
When it comes to food, a particularly useful trick to practice mindfulness when eating, is to appreciate the food while you consume. Focusing on the meal itself helps you trigger feelings of nourishment and joy, which counterbalance the sometimes harmful feelings you may have experienced. It is the looking forward to feeling satisfied and full that often keeps me motivated to actually pause from my busy day and take the time to appreciate having a meal.
To conclude, the older I get, the more I realize there is a battle between my positive self and my own body. It would be very easy for me to slip back into waging a war with my own body, much like how I used to when I was suffering from bulimia. However, what time has taught me is that if I had continued to fight that war, inevitably I would lose. Fortunately, my rock bottom wasn't too late and it motivated me to decide it was time to get better, and over time I did. Mindfulness of that very real struggle that could threaten to resurge is why I take steps to focus on the positives and trust that I have the ability and the right, and perhaps even the responsibility to enjoy a nutritious meal.
Lemoine, P. (2014, October 7). 3 Tips For Practicing Mindfulness While Eating, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, December 6 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivinged/2014/10/3-tips-for-practicing-mindfulness-while-eating
Author: Patricia Lemoine
Thanks as always for sharing, Patricia. I confess I slip into emotional eating sometimes as I did last night where I'm shoveling food and not really enjoying it. So this was just the post I needed to remind me to enjoy my meals, not cram them in or obsess about how much I ate of what afterwards by being proactive during eating. Bless you.
Hello Jade! Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate you reaching out today and sharing your experience. Bless you too :)