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Mindless to Mindful Eating, a Process

This is a pretty vulnerable post, just feeling very inspired to share in case it helps someone else, so here goes...

Mindless eating is something I've always struggled with. But I didn't realize how ingrained it is in my life and routines until today.

The past: I used to binge eat. A lot.

I would hide food in my room (this goes back to high school or even earlier) and eat when others weren't around. Without getting to much into that, I know now that this was a stress response and was a vicious cycle. I would hide what I was eating because I was ashamed or felt guilty, then would feel bad for binge eating, and the cycle would start again.

While I still have situations where I overeat, that kind of binging is mostly behind me, thankfully. How? I think learning to be more mindful - paying attention to how I'm feeling, why I felt the need to eat, how I felt after binging, all that helped me realize that it was doing much more harm than good. Plus finding other healthy ways to deal with my emotions. This certainly was a gradual process - I don't really know of an exact time when the binging stopped.

Fast forward to today

I'm participating in the 75 days of Progress challenge (similar to 75 Hard, with some grace built in) with my friend Jaimie at Grace to Growth Wellness and this week our focus is on Nutrition. Jaimie shared her latest post with some nutrition tips and challenged us to pick one to focus on. I picked mindful eating! Yoga teacher, already practicing mindfulness pretty regularly, easy right??

Uh, no.

I have some habits that are much more MINDLESS eating than Mindful, specifically reading or watching TV when I eat (solo meals in particular). As I thought more about it, I realized I read a lot when I eat, which then translates to when I want to read, I need a snack. So I set specific goals for the week to eat 1 meal a day with no distraction, and not have any snacks when I read. Easy peasy, right?

UGH, you guys.

I sat down to eat my breakfast today, and was like "NO, I can't do it!" I literally said that out loud to myself. 🤦‍♀️ I've had a weird, kinda off center couple of days, nothing major, just in a funk, and I just wanted to sit, eat my food and zone out with my book. When I said that out loud, I realized mindful eating is a bigger challenge for me than I thought.

And, I can do hard things... least for 2 minutes! So I told myself I could do this for 2 minutes, then I can read (tomorrow or next meal I'll increase it to 3!). And I did it! I set my timer, took a deep and looked at my meal, and slowly started eating, really chewing my food, setting my fork down between bites. When the timer went off I finished my meal with my book (baby steps! 😅). You know what I noticed? HOW hard this was for me, even just for 2 minutes! My eyes darted around trying to find something to read, and I remembered as a kid reading the back of the cereal box (did you do that too??) or the comics in the paper. It's SO easy to find distraction, and that's not even mentioning the phone (I didn't look at it either for those 2 minutes)!! Counting this as a win! 🎉

To be continued, practicing mindful eating

Obviously this is a process I'll be working on for a while! This mindless eating is an engrained habit - I've been building the neuropathway grooves in my brain this way for over 50 years 😬. But I wanted to share and thought this might resonate with someone else, and we can practice this together! Maybe you'll set your alarm for 2 minutes and pay attention to your meal (or is there somewhere else in your life where you want to be more present - on a walk, playing with your kids, you pick!). If you try it out, let me know. Stay tuned for more progress updates!

💗 Becky

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