Mindful Mondays: Mindful Eating

 

I’ve never understood those girls who eat like birds, picking over their food like chickens in a hen yard, a bite here and a bite there until they push back their plates declaring, “I’m so full!” before they’ve even made a dent in their meal.

I was born with a huge appetite – both for food and for life – that’s never quite satisfied. Cooking is a passion of mine – something that relaxes me and brings me joy. In my free time I read cookbooks and pin pictures of fabulous meals and research new restaurants and try new techniques. Even when I’m not eating, I’m thinking about eating.

Like most young adults, something happened to my metabolism the year I turned 23 and I lost the ability to follow my appetite wherever it led me. Nowadays my metabolism goes so slowly that I gain weight if I eat more than 1200 calories a day (which is the amount most people eat when on a strict diet). Unfortunately, my slow metabolism has not changed the fact that I still want to eat all the food in the world. In fact, I want to eat them all twice. What it has done is increased the need for me to be mindful about my eating.

I don’t mean mindful eating in the sense of dieting and restricting. I mean being aware of what I’m putting into my body and why. If my body can only process 1200 calories a day then I want to enjoy each one of them. It’s so easy to eat (especially snack food) mindlessly while doing something else. It’s easy for me to cram handfuls of food into my mouth without even noticing while I watch TV or work on my computer.

I want to learn to pay attention. I want to stop and ask myself – Why am I eating? And if the answer isn’t because I’m truly hungry, then I need to stop and find something else to do. And if the answer is because I’m hungry then I want to slow down and savor. I want to fully appreciate the gift of good food-how it tastes, where it comes from, and how it somehow miraculously nourishes my body.

Lately I’ve forgotten the value of mindful eating. This week I want to hit the reset button. I want to make conscious choices about what I eat and when I eat and why I eat. Tonight I’ll try a new recipe for balsamic glazed chicken with acorn squash and roasted root vegetables. I’ll prepare this meal with my own hands, chopping the vegetables, tossing the chicken in the tangy sweetness of the balsamic, and roasting them all together in my oven. Then I will sit down to eat it with gratitude for the earth that produced the squash and for the chicken who died so that I could eat this meal.

Eating good food is itself a great pleasure, but when I slow down and practice mindfulness I create a little more space for beauty. And the world can always use a little more beauty.

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18 comments

  1. Lily, I too have to watch what I eat. I have diabetes type 2. So I can control my illness by eating carefully but sometimes its hard. I want snack foods, I crave them when I have Eve’s curse.

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  2. Hi Lily, nice to read this! 😉 I am a huge fan of eating, allthough last year I managed to loose about 40 kg with eating and drinking more mindful, so to say being very aware of what goes into my food, and what i am eating and drinking. I didn’t want to diet or restrict myself because that suggests you’ll stop doing it after a while, and I just needed some change which I can hold on to. And sure I argree the world does need more beauty, or as the famous poet said (whose name just slips my mind at the moment) A thing of beauty is a joy forever!

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    1. Wow! Congratulations on your weight loss success. I love what you said about needing to make sustainable changes instead of going on a “diet.” That’s what I think mindful eating is helping me with. It’s a healthier way of thinking about food in general, which can be hard for me since it’s something I love so much. I’m learning more and more that it’s OK for me to really love food, but I can use that love of food to help me choose things that are really nourishing my body instead of just eating junk because it’s around or is convenient.

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      1. eating the most delicious things shouldn’t be a too hard choice over choosing for junk?? In the same move you lose most of the added sugars, preservatives and other E… substances. By the way, just started in your book an altar in the world, which is really good to read! I like the holistic approach on faith!

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  3. I agree with you about making your own meals. It can be really simple, but sitting down at the table to share a meal that you’ve cooked with your own hands is just special. I’ve come to appreciate this time so much. It also makes me a more mindful spouse.

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  4. I saw an interesting lecture yesterday, where Gabor Mate, one of the most prominent physicians in our society, talked about the addiction to food and eating. I agree with you, that the best way is to be extremely aware what you eat, but it cannot just make your whole life turn around this single thing. As he stated, it was not just food that was important, but also the way we ate it. Are you really enjoying every bite, or do you stuff yourself with tons of food just not to feel empty. There is much more to eating (and living) than the resources. I agree with you that it is important to enjoy the beauty, enjoy the possibility to create something, and to digest it properly. This is why I always go for a walk to a park with my dog after I finish my meal.

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    1. I think mindfulness is a good way to combat that tendency towards food addiction. Sometimes just slowing down and thinking about what you’re doing can make you realize that you’re doing things for the wrong reasons. Going for a walk with your dog in the park sounds like a lovely way to finish off a meal. 🙂

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  5. Happy New Year!!!! Nice to read you again. Not sure yet if you’ve been writing lots as I have been the one who has been away from blogging a lot these days…MONTHS!!! Anyway, me, I often try to mind my eating but it’s hard when you have not much to choice but to eat what’s on the table. I don’t snack much, I don’t crave for snacking much, but sometimes during meals, i tend to eat much when I like the food.

    I am trying to eat well now especially because I am eating for two, but it’s hard when it’s the baby that makes me crave for food just a few hours after I’ve eaten, LOL!!! Hopefully I am giving it the right nutrition it needs…Anyway, good luck to us in our mindful eating 🙂

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    1. Thanks! Happy New Year to you too! I definitely think you can cut yourself some slack with eating while pregnant. 😉 Just a good general life principle to think about what you’re eating instead of shoving food in your mouth without even really realizing it. But there are definitely times where your body (or your baby) are telling you they need more or different food than usual and that is OK. Congratulations again on your pregnancy!

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    1. That would be hard, haha. For me it’s not just about eating less, it’s about eating intentionally – like eating food I like because I’m hungry instead of eating just cause I’m bored. 🙂

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