How I Have Used Mindfulness to Help My Emotional Eating
One of the first things I did mindfully for myself during the pandemic had to do with food. At the start of the pandemic, I noticed how much I would stress eat or emotionally eat during the day. It didn’t matter when I was hungry or if I was even hungry, I would just eat. I felt that since I was home all the time, why not just eat what’s readily available, and in front of me. A couple weeks went by and I was like “woah – hold up Rae – what are you doing?” I took a note of what I had been eating, and was shocked at myself. I was eating about 5-6 packs of my kids fruit snacks a day, chips, nachos, veggie sticks, M&M’s and so much more – on top of my meals! And, I was feeling ‘bleh’, bloated, not energized and lazy. My meals had been pretty consistent as far as mostly healthy, minus the occasional nachos for dinner or a appetizer rather than a meal. But sometimes you just want something different and need to change it up.
So taking mindfulness into consideration, I altered the way I was looking at my food. I became more mindful of what I was eating. I noticed every bite that I was taking and how it felt to be eating. I noticed what my food smelled like. I became more aware of what I was eating. I made the conscious decision to eat more healthy options, and watch my portions with my splurges. I ate slowly, savored each bite and enjoyed the food I was eating. I limited my snacks, although somedays were a little better than others. I tried to make my lunches ahead of time again, as if I was going into an office. This hasn’t always worked, or I should say it hardly does work. But I think more about what I can have and try to make the best choices for myself. I sat down for my breakfast and lunch. I didn’t eat the kids snacks. I had snacks of healthier options available for myself and also for my kids. And after a bit of time, I noticed a difference in how I felt. I started to feel a bit happier with myself. I started to feel good. I was starting to feel a little bit more energized. I was starting to feel a bit more clear minded.
I was starting to feel better about my body, as I knew I was nourishing it with good food. I started to not finish everything in front of me, and honor my body in listening to when it’s full. Or listening to when it needs more. There’s times where I occasionally want some different food, such as ordering pizza, Thai food or Mexican food. And even when doing that, I opt to not eat the entire meal and save some for the next day as my lunch. This allowed me to listen to when I was full or not. This was helping me feel a lot better about myself too, knowing that I wasn’t overeating. Could I be doing a bit better? Of course! But there’s only so much that I can or want to do. I don’t want to keep myself from things that I’m craving or wanting. I don’t want to deprive myself of the things that I like. I will never give up my ice cream, frozen yogurt or dark chocolate. And if you know me, you know that I won’t give it up. I just may have less of it when I do have it and opt to have it on special occasions, rather than every night. But I have noticed that my sweet tooth has decreased and that makes me happy. I used to have the biggest sweet tooth and would not turn down anything offered to me. So that was a huge difference and I welcome it. That sweet tooth does come and go, but it has definitely decreased compared to the past.
I don’t believe in diets. I don’t believe in limiting any food varieties. I’m not a professional, and I haven’t done any research, but I just have never believed that diets are for me. If you believe in diets, that’s cool.
I have been making better decisions about the foods that I’m putting into my body. My body appreciates it. My mind appreciates it. And I can honestly say that I feel AND see a difference in myself for this. It might only be the slightest difference, but it’s there. And it makes me feel so good to know that I’m taking care of myself, in more than one way. I am still eating ice cream here and there, and some other things when I want it. Because if I crave it, I’m just going to have it, even a small amount because it’s OK to indulge once in a while. And if I mess up one day, it happens. I don’t get upset with myself. I choose this as learning to know what my body needs and wants. And finding that balance of the healthy choices and the sweet tooth. I’m definitely working on keeping an open mind with all the food options. I don’t think there’s one right way to eat or not. But noticing what you’re putting into your body and how you feel, is a good way to be mindful of what you’re eating.
I want to add that this is all a big learning curve; a new lifestyle of food choices. I’m not perfect. So although I went through a huge part of time where it was working, I can honestly say I did fall off the wagon a bit. I’m currently picking myself up and being more mindful again with my eating choices. Because the way I felt when I started it before, is how I want to feel. And making these changes is hard, and there are going to be obstacles that stop you, or pull you off the path for a while. You just need to pick yourself up and start again, especially if you know it will help you.
Food is important and it’s important to eat the most nourishing foods to energize and fuel yourself. But also having the foods you enjoy is good too. I may not always feel as energized as I think I should, but I try to learn from what each day brings and honor what I’m feeling about the food choices I have.
Have you tried being conscious, mindful of what you are eating? Have you noticed any differences?