Mindful Eating

I thought of this earlier today, and wanted to at least touch on it here. I’ll probably flesh it out a little more thoroughly later on, but I at least wanted to get it out there.

Some diet coaches and programs impress upon dieters the importance of “mindful eating” — that is, eating with a purpose, rather than just standing in front of an open fridge with no recollection of how you got there. For me, it’s not so much the idea that I just happened to start eating, and how did I get here? It’s more of an attitude of, “Oh, fuck it. I want to eat something, so here I go, so I’ll stop arguing with myself.”

So, to help cut down on this occurrence (that word never looks like it’s spelled right to me, even though it is), I thought of three questions to ask myself. Not the “How do I want to feel?” that I’ve mentioned before, although that can be helpful. That’s more of an invitation to yourself to be introspective about your potential food choice. No, I want to get straight to the point:

  1. Why am I eating?
  2. Why am I eating THIS?
  3. Why am I eating this NOW?

These questions are pretty straightforward, and the answers are pretty clear-cut as to being either acceptable or unacceptable. Question #1 will determine if I’m really hungry, or if I’m just eating to eat. Question #2 will determine if I’m eating the wrong things for the wrong reasons. And question #3 will help me in planning future meals, or avoiding poor timing.

For example, good answers to “Why am I eating?” would be things like, “I’m hungry,” or, “It’s been four hours since I last ate,” or, “I won’t be able to eat again for another three hours.” Poor answers would be the standard grazer answers: boredom, thirst, because I’m reading, because I’m tired, watching TV, et cetera, et cetera.

Good answers to “Why am I eating THIS?” might revolve around its nutritional content. Or, they might be more superficial and be simply that it’s what was in my lunch, which would then hark back to the planning stage. Poor answers might be that the food is convenient and quick to prepare, or that I’m craving sweets, or that it just sounded really good.

“Why am I eating this NOW?” could be a repeat of the first question, in a way. It could also hone in on meal timing. If I’m eating crap, and I’m eating it NOW because I’m freaking starving, then maybe I need some better preparation in the future. If I’m already planning my meals and eating on a schedule, then the answer here should reflect the answer to question #1.

Like I said, it’s not exactly a dissertation or some grand self-help article. (That’s what separates us hobbyist bloggers from The Professionals, I suppose.) It’s just a general idea of what might help me eat a little better. Honestly, it’s kind of a psychology tactic: maybe I can either guilt myself or logic myself into not eating the wrong things for the wrong reasons.

I’m afraid that the only thing that’ll get me into the shape I want is to morph myself into some sort of OCD scheduler, where I eat at certain times, and exercise every day at a certain time, and do certain workouts on certain days, all the time, and somehow manage to get my ass up out of bed earlier than I do now. It worked well enough in drum corps, when it was planned out for me and pretty much forced upon me; I’m not sure how I can do it for myself, though. I always come up with an out, an alternative plan, another choice to make. When I was half-awake on a gym floor and the drum major would say, “Good morning, Bluecoats! It’s 7:30! You have fifteen minutes to be outside for morning stretches,” the options were: a.) get up, pee, put my contacts in, pull my hair back, get a bra on, put my socks and shoes on and get outside; or b.) stay in my sleeping bag and… what? Get sent home? Get made fun of? Get yelled at? I wasn’t really into any of those options, and so they never occurred to me as actual options.

(It so happened that one mellophone player, Scott, actually did fall asleep during a lunch break once. This was during a stay at a school that didn’t have a practice field adjoining, so we had to be bussed to a field for rehearsal. It was maybe half an hour or so before someone realized that Scott was missing from the drill, and a full hour before one of the volunteers discovered him asleep in the gym and drove him to the field. He was dubbed “Sleepy Scott” from that day forth. He didn’t get in trouble.)

Wow. That went on a tangent. (Again, separating myself from the Big Time Bloggers, I suppose.) Point being, I should at least be mindful of why and what I eat. Then, maybe I can start forming some positive habits so I don’t have to be on a weight-loss plan for the rest of my life.

One thought on “Mindful Eating

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  1. I have gained back I think twenty of the pounds I so diligently lost last summer. This has happened because I started eating w/o thinking. Am I upset…Yeah! Will I get the weight back off? I think so. But I can relate the asking the questions…the problem is that the answer often comes back as “F*ck it!”. Seeing as I have a lot of stress in my job and I tend to drink too much soda as a response…heaven no I couldn’t buy a diet pepsi or drink a water. That would make too much sense.