Dieters, hear my call. The time is ripe for mindfulness.
Provocative news... Fortune reports of a current "plight" in the diet industry as people are looking for more holistic ways to get healthy. Americans seem to be putting greater focus on eating well versus calorie counting.
Does this mean no more tongue exercisers, sauna suits, or diet dinnerware? Does this suggest fewer people on the feeding tube diet (yes, this is real), swallowing fat loss pills or having parts of their stomachs radically removed?
Well, we're not there yet. Last year the U.S. weight loss industry took in $64 BILLION dollars. So, with this seemingly positive trend in health why do we keep licking our lips for "diet" sodas and putting odd contraptions on our limbs? I proclaim that it's time to reconnect to our bodies and discover what it really desires! That's because it's even more than just learning to eat healthy... let's do this, and learn to eat and live mindfully.
Mindfulness is the act of being present in the moment, cultivating non-judgment and a greater awareness of what "is." In my experience, the way to lasting change and weight loss involves the ominous task of looking deeply inside - which is what mindfulness helps you do.
Read this slowly: The way we eat is a direct reflection of how we live. Our intimacy (or lack thereof) with food mimics how we cultivate relationships, how we do our work and how we feel about ourselves.
Let me also explain it on this level. Food is nourishment for the body, mind and soul. Our society is very separated from this concept as we eat on the go, consume "fast foods" and spend diminished time cooking. Currently most Americans spend only 27 minutes a day preparing food and just 4 minutes cleaning up. I still can't get out of my mind Jamie Oliver's TV show several years ago where school children thought tomatoes were potatoes and deemed an eggplant a pear.
Diets don't sustain because they don't integrate our emotional and deep connection with food and how we are also... all... completely... different. They lead us to believe that the answer is outside of ourselves. It is time, past time, to start looking at our full relationship with eating, how we feel when we eat certain foods, why we eat at certain times, what hunger means to our body. It is time to question everything!
You can start this new food awareness process in small steps:
1. Take the plunge by eating one thing mindfully.
Pick something from your pantry or fridge... simply select anything that can be eaten in four to five bites.
Find a spot to focus and begin by pretending this is the first thing you've ever eaten in your life. Now, give your full attention to the morsel. Look at it, see the textures, colors... smell it. Imagine who grew it, or how it was produced and how it ended up in your hands.
Then close your eyes and engage in the process of chewing and swallowing. Notice your tongue, your teeth, the saliva in your mouth. What is your nose experiencing? And, most importantly, notice how you feel. If your item isn't considered "healthy"... are you judging the food, are you already putting ideas in your head about what this food will do to your body?
This little experiment can be like a big bang experience for your mind.
After you've done this once, do it all the time. Do it with a meal, with ice cream, with your coffee, with your family.
2. Cook more!
If you have to start something partially pre-prepared, that's ok, but try to make it from scratch (there are tons of 30 minute recipes online).
So, when you cook be "in" the process. Notice the sensations of chopping and slicing. Are you happy to be cooking, do you feel rushed, are you annoyed... what does this meal me to you and possibly other members of your family? And, listen to the sounds: sizzling, boiling, pouring.
Digestion starts in your head. Gosh, another POWERFUL sentence. Think about what happens if you consciously prepare a meal, sit down to eat it with awareness and then share it with others. Simple day-to-day processes begin to take on so much more scrumptious value.
3. Ditch the old, antiquated food log and try one that parallels your eating with your feelings.
What would that look like? It would be a daily log that indicates all of your food choices, the time they are eaten AND it would also include what you were feeling at the time. The "feeling" part is key so don't hold back. Sometimes the feeling might be odd or strange or connect you back to an experience long ago. The log is for your eyes only. Be completely honest. The knowledge this piece of paper can help shrink your waist size... I've seen it happen in four week with folks simply paying attention.
4. For heaven's sake, learn to meditate!
The practice, like mindfulness, is a powerhouse for stress management. In terms of food, our stress response significantly fuels or minimizes how and what we digest.
Diets are cookie cutter. You are not. Let's revolutionize this "diet industry" by realizing that its magical powers are ineffective and obsolete. Mindful eating and living brings your body, soul and HEART back to you. It allows you to listen to the divine intuition that is innately inside. Your body is a temple -- a temple of complex wisdom and knowing. Give it a chance to talk to you again. What it communicates is delicious.