Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mindful eating

Dr. Stacey has a great exercise for mindful eating.

As I was about to comment on the post, I realized that my response was all about me. So I decided to post here instead.

My initial reaction to this exercise (where one selects food on what one wants to eat rather than what one should eat) was that I want to try it tonight.

But then, I often have this response when I read similar mindful eating exercises.

And I never follow through.


I jump to excuses:
1) I don't eat meals at work - I eat lots of snacks throughout the day which keeps me from feeling stuffed and sleepy.

2) By the time dinner rolls around, I just want to get it over with as quickly as possible so I can have a few minutes of quality time with my hubby, son and myself before bed time.

Both bogus really.

I eat lots of snacks throughout the day because I'm afraid of feeling "full." On a scale of zero (being ravenous) and twelve (being overcome with nausea because I am SO STUFFED), I usually hover around a five or six. Never really starving, never really full. My safe zone.

For me growing up, dinner time was rarely enjoyable. My whole family ate together. Supposedly good, right?
Paint a big red target on my chest because I was a huge target for my brothers and their often cruel "teasing." The faster I ate, the faster I could go back to the sanctuary of my room. Add to this the fact that I was less than fond of many of my mother's choices for dinner. Is it any wonder that when you fast forward to today, I am still overly anxious about sit down meals. Pots and pans of food on the table in front me... just the thought sends my pulse racing. Dinner is something that I just want to get through - even now, when I have thoroughly enjoyable conversations with my hubby and son. Even now, when almost everything on the table is something I enjoy (and when it isn't, I can make something else. Because I'm cooking. I'm in charge.)

I do try to work on that. I slow down when I realize that I'm shoveling the food in. I focus on the conversation or start one up. Funny how I rarely remember to breathe... Maybe that could be my next step?

The other reason I shy away from trying mindful eating exercises is that my ED often used that as a ploy to get me to restrict even more. "Jeanne, think about what you're eating before and as you eat it. Chew each morsel. Savor it. You see? You don't need to eat so much..." as I finished a crumb of something or other.

That voice still seduces me... Lures me with the sweet sound of keeping my hunger level closer to two (rather than the five or six where I have taught myself to hover comfortably.)

So instead, what I try to do is mindfully eat those foods that are "treats" - that my body doesn't necessarily need to function (like macro- and micro-nutrients) but that my body, mind, and soul do need to survive (my comfort foods.)

Someday, I hope to be able to tackle a complete meal, a meal that is eaten in a state of awareness and full of thought.

But for now, I do what I can. After all, just as the road to paradise starts with one step, the road to complete mindful eating begins with one bite.

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