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Eating with Mindfulness

Mindful living can lead to healthy eating. Here's some ideas how.

Eating healthfully can be very challenging. We live in a time and culture where we are surrounded by food. We want food fast and we want it cheap. Further, many of us have some deeply entrenched habits around food and knowing how to eat healthy can be very confusing and daunting. It seems like the fads and research as to what is good for our bodies are changing daily. It can be so hard to know if what you’re doing to your diet is actually beneficial or is science going to tell us in two weeks that today’s superfood is tomorrow’s carcinogen? Who can keep up with all this craziness?!

Another component to food is that we have some very strong psychological and emotional ties to it. We turn to it when we are happy and we turn to it when we are sad. It is the center of social gatherings like barbecues and family dinners. Then there’s ice cream and chocolate to comfort us after a dreaded break up. Bored? Grab a bag of pretzels. Watching a movie? Let’s shovel the popcorn down the gullet!

There are some of us who have a lifetime’s worth of poor eating habits. Many of us don’t even know what eating clean is — and how can we! There’s so much conflicting information out there that it’s mind boggling. Poor eating is deeply entrenched in out society. We want our food fast, yummy, and simple and this often comes at an expense to our health. Skim down the ingredient list of almost any packaged food in the grocery store and you will see that so much of it is loaded with unnecessary chemicals, sugars, preservatives, and a slew of things that you have to have a PhD in chemistry to pronounce.

Food literally affects our brain chemistry. Many of the sugary, doughy foods have similar effects to our brains as drugs, even to the extent of us becoming addicted to some foods. We all know that feeling of craving fats or those DELICIOUS breads. Those are our dietary addictions. And they’re not good for our brains or our bodies.

So, with all this craziness and confusion on the menu, what can we do about it? Besides learning the ins and outs of clean eating from our wonderful friends at Prescribe Nutrition, there are also many practices we can incorporate into our lives that can help in the difficulty of changing our habits. A key component to switching our view and framework around food is mindfulness and how we relate psychologically to food and our bodies.

Many of us have a lot of unconscious patterns around food. For example, french fries and potato chips. When you chow down on those are you doing it meaningfully and with consciousness? Heck no! We shove those things in our face as quick as we can between gulps of sugary cola goodness! What else do you eat like this? Probably a lot. Are you *there* when you’re eating? Or are you thinking about what you need to do at work, at home, with your friends or a million other things.

Next time you eat try being there. Reign those thoughts and that wondering mind in and bring consciousness the process of eating. Eat with purpose and intention. Breathe. When you are compelled to just eat and eat and eat, shoveling those french fries in, or scoops of ice cream, take a step back. Check in with your body and your mind. How is this food affecting your body? Does your body feel good from this food? Does this food make you feel light and clean or heavy and lethargic? Is this a type of food that you really want to be eating? Your body will be sending you a lot more signals than you think once you start listening.

Temptation is EVERYWHERE. We are surrounded by crappy, unhealthy food and sometimes it really feels like it’s calling our names! But don’t let it pull you in. Keep your eye on the prize! Old habits are very hard to break. I know when I took my first PN class and was learning how to eat whole, clean foods, my body would crave the foods I had built bad habits around. Breads, sugars, ice cream, chips, burritos, and ohhh the pizza! But focus on what it is you really want. Tell yourself that these changes will be worth it. You will feel better. You will live better overall. You will have fewer health problems. You will look better. You may have to even create a funny mantra for yourself for when you’re really craving those bad foods. I would repeat to myself “This is all going to be worth it, this is all going to be worth it!” And guess what? It was worth it! I am worth it. You are worth it! Take care of you by giving your body real food with the nutrition you need.

Going back to bad habits, let’s not completely ignore those right now. Check in with yourself on why you were eating poorly. In some way, these bad eating habits were serving you. Were you using them to bottle your emotions? To hide something? What are the top ten things blocking your progress? How can you change those? Make a list of realistic action steps you can take and alternative, healthier ways of dealing with the triggers. Be kind to yourself and practice self care. Practice creative visualization — see yourself as you ideally want to be, eating healthfully, at an ideal weight, glowing with goodness.

Associate with people with similar goals. Hang out with people from the gym and join Facebook groups where people have similar ideas and interests. This will help to empower the new habits your forming. These people will also help to give you ideas, support, and even some fun recipes!

Stay motivated by knowing how good you are going to look and feel. You’ll have more energy, more clarity, and these will spill out into all other areas of your life!

Take care of you. Practice wholesome, healthful things like meditation, yoga, and get massages. Be patient with yourself. For many of us, these are some big changes and deeply entrenched bad habits. They’re not going to go away over night. Keep fighting! Meditation increases focus, attention, happiness, while reducing anxiety and stress. However, maybe you are one of those people who just *can’t* sit still and meditate. That’s okay! Sitting, silent meditation isn’t for everyone. Try an active meditation like qi gong, tai chi, yoga, and/or mindful walking.

This journey is about you. It’s going to take some effort in the beginning while you’re building new habits, but once your practice this consistent, you’ll find that all this healthy eating isn’t so hard and that it really is worth it!

Originally published at www.scottgoolsby.com

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