Mindful Eating – Can it be TOO Mindful?
As I have mentioned before, the 60 Day Challenge has been a true journey for me. I continue to learn things about myself and how mindfulness and metaphysics can support the process.
So let’s talk about food, one of my favorite subjects. Those who know me also know I love great food and wine. Seeing a Chef (or as I call them “artists,” with food is their canvas) create wonderful flavors through combinations I would never imagine just makes my heart smile. Then you add some great company and the day is complete.
However, on the other side of food, I also have a lot of “old programming.” Some of my subconscious beliefs include things like “Food is Love,” a leftover from childhood. I also have a confused set of programming from years of change in our American nutritional info. First, it was all fat is bad. Then we said some fats are good, but carbs are bad. Then we said it’s the sugar making us fat. We all know whole foods are a better option, but I still have lots of old beliefs coming to the surface, even with all the information out there today on the need for balanced eating.
The reason I share this part of my journey is that being uber focused and aware of everything that goes into my mouth (and logging it) has created some interesting challenges that I did not expect. But first, I want to say that being mindful of what I am eating (and thankful for it) has had tremendous positive impact for me! I am re-programming my brain to not eat on auto-pilot. I covered all the mechanics of why and how that works in a previous article so I won’t go into it here. But just know that eating with mindfulness where we pay attention to exactly what we are eating, how we eat it, the taste, smell, color, and texture is a very rewarding process! And daily meditation has helped me to stay in the present and make different choices as discussed in my article on the science of meditation.
With that disclaimer out of the way, the unexpected and interesting part I have found with “mindful” eating has been the analysis I am using in deciding WHAT to eat. Being so focused on food choice, to the point of obsession, has caused me to drop back into some older beliefs I didn’t realize were still there. My highly focused, type “A” personality often demands results. (Yes, I am still working on releasing the expectations I discussed in a previous blog called “Outcome; Shmoutcome.”) So in paying attention to everything I am eating, I keep trying new things when I don’t get the results I want to see. The issue is that I have been mixing the high vibrational joy of mindfully eating good food with a militant, laser-like focus on exact macro-nutrient levels and stressing over missing the calorie intake where every macronutrient level is perfect. So what I thought was a “mindful” focus on WHAT I am eating is actually a control mechanism whereby I am trying to beat my body into submission nutritionally by playing games with different food combinations. In just reading that statement, you can probably tell that the vibration of that act completely flies in the face of mindfulness concepts. And, it also has an unwanted impact of canceling out the good vibes I am creating when I DO eat mindfully. How ironic. However, it’s been a great lesson for me to uncover! So what now?
When I work with clients, I often have them do a “Start. Stop. Continue.” chart when we uncover things are not working for them. Here is mine. I am going to start listening more to my body about what it wants to eat and how it feels and my energy level versus trying to follow someone else’s program (this week I was using Atkins, for example). I am going to stop judging myself when I don’t hit the ratios just right and stop judging my body for not acting the way I think it should when I do hit the right nutrient counts. I am going to continue to eat mindfully, giving thanks for the food and enjoying the healthy choices I am making.
The bottom line to this entire discussion is that mindful eating is about vibration, attitude, and awareness. It is NOT about being so highly focused on every food choice that we drive ourselves crazy in the process and forget the most important part; it’s our journey to enjoy!
So eat and drink mindfully, and be merry!