If you give a stressed mom a cookie… she’ll stand at the counter and eat the entire box.
Been there. Done that.
Course it doesn’t have to be cookies, or even junk food. Often when I’m pounding on the keyboard trying to get a post out or an article done, I skip eating altogether. By then, I’m starving and I must eat everything I see Like Right Now. I’ll walk to the kitchen and grab anything sitting there, and by “there” I mean in the fridge and in the cupboard and on the counter. Anything that is ready to eat quick-like – no chopping, cooking involved – I’m going to eat.
If that’s an unpeeled orange leftover from breakfast, fine, it’s as good as gone. But if it’s a few broken crackers at the end of the bag, a leftover cookie from my husband’s lunch party,or pasta set aside for tonight’s dinner, I’ll scarf it down too. Usually without noticing or tasting or enjoying.
I’ve written about that kind of mindless eating before in these pages, and I’ve talked about the antidote – mindfulness.
Now I’m reading this book The Joy of Half a Cookie: Using Mindfulness to Lose Weight and End the Struggle with Food, by Jean Kristeller, PhD and Alisa Bowman and it’s giving me the science behind the practice of mindful eating and plenty of things to help me slow down and become aware of what my body needs so that I can make conscious choices, enjoy my food more, AND END the STRUGGLE around food.
Did you get that? END THE STRUGGLE. This is big news because I’m so over the struggle in my life. On my best-person days, I DO NOT do it anymore, the struggle thing. I let things come and go. I feel sad if I feel sad and I keep looking for the joy, and then I take it in and savor the goodness that is always around. All the time I am learning to let go and not fight against the world. I’m looking looking for ways to meet hard with softness. I’m building in the practice of mindfulness, the habit, so when I’m prone to anger or freak out or worry, I can stop struggling even then.
I don’t think even our hardest days require struggle. We don’t have to do it that way. We can live with self-compassion and grace and mindfulness and intelligence and humor. We can assume a growth mindset and be gritty, and test drive a zillion other things that I write about and try to live by so that we can all NOT STRUGGLE.
And yet I struggle with food. I don’t hate it. I don’t obsess about. But rarely, do I give it my attention. I eat too fast. Don’t savor. I don’t eat enough, or I eat way, way too much. I’m not good with portion size. If it’s on my plate it’s going down – a habit that is not working for me.
Mostly, I want to notice the food I’m eating. To enjoy it, to make food choices that leave me feeling energized, and not too full at the end of a meal.
This is the stuff Kristeller and Bowman write about: “the middle way between mindless eating and restricting eating.”
“It’s not about shifting back and forth between one and the other,” they write. “It’s about finding the balance between these two extremes where flexibility, conscious choice, and enjoyment meet.”
Yes. This. When you identify what your body craves, and learn to savor those foods – you can actually enjoy your food more, say the writers. Yes. Please.
And get this, science shows that you can eat the foods you want like chips or a donut, without gobbling down the entire box, or feeling guilty, or out of control. We can eat, and even enjoy our fave foods and not feel guilty.
And this positive stuff keeps food freak-out at bay and can help you create greater awareness which, Kristeller and Bowman say, helps you “uncover the hidden sources of weight gain.”
So yeah, you might drop a few pounds (research says you will) by eating mindfully, AND you’ll also be living more deliberately, giving your body what it needs to feel awesome, AND eating the food you enjoy.
Serve me up a side of that. Are you ready to try a more mindful approach to eating?