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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What is mindful eating?

I am interrupting my fun times with the alphabet to present to you my current thoughts. I can do these things -- because it's my blog!! LOL.

I have recently taken some times out to evaluate this whole maintaining weight business because it is seriously hard work! It really should not be so HARD!! I don't want to have to struggle along with maintenance for the rest of my life -- so I have decided to go about it in a different way. Being a creature of routine and habit this is going to be a major challenge. However -- I like challenges!! Bring it on! :-D

There are 2 ways to go about this whole weight loss business -- the self-controlled, restrictive, tough approach (which I have used successfully and have won much of the fight - take THAT 50kg!!). Or there is this other way, which takes the fight out of it and has you focusing on enjoying food, taking care of your body being kind to yourself. Now -- as mind blowingly foreign as this sounds to me I am weary enough of the fight to attempt something as crazy as this sounds. So, as is my way -- once I have decided to do something, I set about researching it and seeing how I can do it best and succeed at it!! Hahaha!! (Something which will hopefully change in this process of learning how to be kind to myself.) BUT in the meantime -- I thought you could all benefit from my research!! LOL.

So - what is mindful eating:

Mindful eating involves a nonjudgmental awareness of your body. It means that you need to pay attention to the moment when you eat -- pay attention to what is happening in your brain and your body. Think about how you feel before and during eating and it has you concentrating on the food while you are eating it using all your senses. It has you exploring how you feel while eating both emotionally and also physically, so you are aware of why you are eating. You become aware of feeling physically hungry and you can feel when you are getting full.
Mindful eating promotes balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is - it may be something that you may not like about yourself, however with this approach it's about calmly acknowledging the fact and looking at it with curiosity rather than judgement. With practice, mindful eating can have you free from reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. It encourages you to choose food that it nourishing to your body, and it encourages the enjoyment of all aspects of food through an awareness using all your senses. A person who eats mindfully looks at the immediate choices and direct experiences associated with eating food and not to the distant health outcome of having eaten it -- but at the same time they are aware of and reflect on the effects caused by unmindful eating. This reflecting is not a time where they beat themselves up - but a non-judgemental observation which can be used to help them make wise decisions in the future.

Today’s experiment in eating involves becoming aware of that reflexive urge to plow through your meal like Cookie Monster on a shortbread bender. Resist it. Leave the fork on the table. Chew slowly. Stop talking. Tune in to the texture of the pasta, the flavor of the cheese, the bright color of the sauce in the bowl, the aroma of the rising steam.

Continue this way throughout the course of a meal, and you’ll experience the third-eye-opening pleasures and frustrations of a practice known as mindful eating.

The concept has roots in Buddhist teachings. Just as there are forms of meditation that involve sitting, breathing, standing and walking, many Buddhist teachers encourage their students to meditate with food, expanding consciousness by paying close attention to the sensation and purpose of each morsel. In one common exercise, a student is given three raisins, or a tangerine, to spend 10 or 20 minutes gazing at, musing on, holding and patiently masticating.

When you are eating mindfully you are eating slowly and relishing each bite. It's not about giving anything up -- it's about experiencing food more intensely and getting lots of pleasure from it.

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