Creating Personal Power with Mindful
By Lindsay Leimbach
Mindful Eating fosters personal power and happiness in your life
and is a large part of Mindful Living. Mindful Living is having awareness of the present moment during your day to
day activities. Mindful Eating is
having awareness concerning food and eating, with a focus on enjoying each bite.
Personal power arises through the awareness of the relationship you have with eating
behaviors and food choices. In today’s
hustle and bustle, we are often inclined to eat on the run while multi-tasking.
TV dinners, fast food chains, power bars, and super-sizing are reinforced in
our media and society. We frequently eat
in a hypnotic state; we don’t remember what we ate or how much we ate. Mindful
Eating is a skill that can awaken us to the pleasure of eating and the joy of
the present moment. Eating mindfully can improve eating behaviors, enable
weight control, prevent chronic disease, and foster a healthy relationship
between food and ourselves.
Mindful Living is never denying yourself, telling yourself
you can’t, or restricting your thinking. It is an awareness of your external
and internal motivations, without judgement. Likewise, Mindful Eating is having awareness
of your external and internal motivations without judgment in relation to food.
Awareness leads to insight, knowledge, and positive choices – and making those
choices is the exercise of personal power over food.
When we place restrictions and judgments on ourselves and our
food by saying “I can’t eat …” we are reinforcing negative thinking and
giving food all the power. What the mind thinks about, in a positive or negative
way, the mind will be attracted to. Example, if you tell yourself “I cannot eat
any bread”, as soon as you walk up to the table, you will focus on all the
bread items you cannot eat. You have convinced yourself that a certain item is
“dangerous”, and, therefore, the brain will point out that item every time you
come across it. This is how the brain is wired to keep us safe.
Instead of thinking of food items as “dangerous”, realize
you can eat any food you want (provided you are not allergic). You’re simply
choosing to limit the intake of food items that do not promote your well-being –
you are exercising choices, rather than restrictions. Mindful Eating is shifting
your focus from restrictions, dieting, and weight to personal power that
promotes your well-being. It is a shift of thinking from “I can’t” to “I feel
better when I eat…” or “this food works better for me so I choose…”
To make the shift from controlling your thoughts from a
“warning Will Robison “Danger, Danger”” about food to “I got this under control
and feel great about it” is mindful awareness. The crucial step is knowledge.
How does your body react to different foods? Do some cause weight gain? Do
others cause bloating or tiredness? Knowing your personal relationship with
foods adds to the knowledge that allows you to make positive informed choice
without emotion. If you knew a friend treated you well, you would invite him or
her into your home. If you knew someone was assaultive and rude you would not
invite that person. The more knowledge you have about how your body reacts to
food, the more inclined you will be to choose foods that promote health and well-being.
You will have more personal power to walk away from foods that are assaultive
or harmful. Awareness opens the door to knowledge, and knowledge leads you to
make a better factual decision. On the occasions that you want to have a food
that might not treat your body so well, then do so. But make an informed choice
to use moderation, which will also help eliminate those guilty feelings you
might normally associate with eating those foods. Realize that the consequences
are just the consequences, not a result of failure but a choice.
How does one eat mindfully? Be awake and aware while eating.
Choose when you will eat. Choose where you will eat. Choose what you will eat.
Choose how much you will eat. You have the personal power over food; food does
not have the power over you.
Here are 6 steps to Mindful Eating:
hunger – Are you really hungry? Are you eating as a social response? Is it
a habitual time and place to eat? Be aware why you have chosen to eat. Rate how
hungry are you from 1 to 10.
Asses your food–
Stop, pause, and really appreciate your food. How does it look? How does it
smell? How much have your served yourself? Have you served the food in a
mindful way (e.g. placing a portion in a bowl or on a plate, instead of eating
from the box or bag)?
Taste your food
– Really taste it. Eat slowly and savor the food and textures in every bite. Do
not rush. If you are going to eat, choose to relish your food.
hunger – check in with yourself while eating. Are you still hungry? Is it
time to stop because you are full, or because times up, the waiter took your
plate, or the food is finished? Make a conscious decision about when you are
finished. Remember you will feel fuller faster if you eat slowly.
Notice how you feel
– Be aware of how you feel physically and emotionally while eating. Are you calm
and relaxed or are you rushing, lost in thought, or lost in the TV? You will
eat more when you are eating on automatic pilot and you will not even remember
how the food tasted. Eating in a trance like state is an invitation to over
eat. Remember to check in with yourself 30 or 60 minutes after eating. Has your
meal given you energy or do you need a nap?
Have gratitude for the opportunity to eat. Be grateful to all the people,
plants, and animals that played a part in providing you with food. Seeing the
bigger picture will connect you to others and help you establish a positive sense
of well-being. Sharing your gratitude with others establishes a positive connection
in relationships. It also positively reinforces Mindful Eating in others.
For more information about Lindsay please visit www.CenteredMoment.com .