The more I study and practice “Visceral Awareness” (see previous entries in this blog series), the more I realize how uninformed I’ve been about the deepest needs and resilience of the human body.
Consistent meditation upon our breathing, intentionally wearing the Buddhist “half smile,” and tuning in to the body’s seven chakras (energy wheels) are three practices that can help us more fully engage our physical dynamics, and nurture an agile vehicle for our infinite spirits. These disciplines naturally lead to an enhanced focus upon the specific ways we tend to our bodies, including more “mindful eating.”
I think there’s two aspects to mindful eating: what we actually eat, and how we do it.
First, the “what.” Until a little more than three years ago, I thought I knew how to eat well. For years I’d minimized my intake of fried foods, saturated fats, and all the other stuff that tastes so good but is “so bad for you.” But then a season of intense reading helped me to finally made the clear connection between excessive consumption of simple carbohydrates, extra body fat, and roller-coaster blood sugar. I began applying strategic vigilance over the macro-nutrient, sodium, and overall calorie content of what I ate.
I’ve not always been consistent in eating the way I now know that I should (especially regarding pizza and pasta!), but these general principles I wrote about a few years ago remain true to me:
* We need a strategy for how we eat
* There are no short-cuts; it’s hard work to be eat healthy and lots of hindrances abound, but it’s very possible to find a rhythm through an open mind, attention to detail, and sheer tenacity
* Our bodies need an appropriate proportion of all three macro-nutrients: proteins, carbohydrates and, yes, fats.
* Even if we regularly engage in cardio, flexibility, and strength training, we won’t burn fan and build muscle the way we’ve always wanted to if we over-eat
Second, the “how.” If we eat healthy items but barely notice what we’re eating, I think we’re doing ourselves a disservice. I’m as guilty as anyone else about distracting myself with work, television, or my iPhone while shoveling food into my mouth. Like most people, I find it very difficult to “just eat” when I eat, and truly notice the taste, texture, and smell of what I’m eating, while reflecting on its source and even the efforts that others made along the supply chain that ultimately led to my plate.
Author Amanda Owen writes, “Don’t treat everyday food as boring and unimportant. Give it the same gratitude, interest and excitement that you offer a favorite meal. It’s natural to ooh and ahh over a favorite birthday dinner. But what about the chicken or salad you eat frequently? Take the time to notice and be thankful.” (See one of her articles here.)
I pay a lot more attention to the taste and display of my food when I’m dining with someone, especially when we’re both trying a new dish. However, when I’m by myself, eating is often just another task to multi.
I’d like to practice a more mindful focus during just one meal per day, for starters. Surely this is possible! Maybe I need to start even smaller…perhaps with a mid-morning “power snack.” Or even a part of a part of a snack. Let me see…can I mindfully eat this one, tiny almond???
Are you still reading this? Pause now and consider what you eat and how you go about eating it. What circumstances or habits lead to your food choices? What’s the environment like when you’re actually consuming? What emotions flow through your body as you eat, and which of these emotions linger in the aftermath of your meals? What’s your energy like throughout the day, and what peaks or valleys do you notice?
I end this blog entry the same way as the previous ones: Let’s keep doing this practice together, even if we’re not able to discuss it or observe each other. We’ve got this! (Well, we might not have it yet, but with perseverance and mutual support, we shall progress.)
Growing Your Strengths
I’m a Nashville-based writer, talent strategist, and certified executive coach. On this website, I primarily write stories featuring a diverse group of professionals whose examples of applying mindfulness, learning agility, and storytelling will help you love your career and enhance your quality of life.
These characters face familiar pain points: nonstop change, accelerating economic and technological disruption, and the collective “noise” that grows louder each day. The impact, for these professionals and for many of us, has been confusion, distraction, and stress.
Until, however, each of these individuals chooses to do something new: practicing mindfulness, learning agility, and storytelling habits, and growing them into strengths…strengths that respond to change rather than just react.
Strengths that you can develop as well.
Don’t settle for the confusion, distraction, and stress. You’re stronger than that, and capable of much more.
Choose to do something new. Today. Start with this post, check out my books, and join our learning community to receive free, exclusive content via email each month with timely guidance on applying mindfulness, learning agility, and storytelling.