Mindfulness

Mindfulness

Mindfulness & the moment of choice

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a tactic you could use to overcome cravings whenever they surface to test your will power? Luckily there is!

It comes in the form of mindfulness. Mindful eating is a way of living that helps to prevent unnecessary harm to one’s body and mind.

Mindful eating requires you to engage deeply with your five senses, and anchor yourself in the present moment where all food decisions are made. Heightened awareness in these moments empowers you to make decisions you can be proud of in the long-term. This can improve both your self-esteem and your health. 

In mindful eating, we use all of our 5 senses to connect with our food, and enjoy our meals slowly.

Sight

Imagine that you are seeing these foods for the first time. Pay attention to colour, shape and texture.

Touch

Use hands or utensils to pick up the food. Feel the texture of the food between your fingertips or against your lips. Pay attention to the sensation of touch for the next few minutes.

Smells

Bring food to your nose and deeply inhale. Continue breathing and focus on the scents allowing them to come to you. Be mindful of any feelings, sensations or thoughts that are arising. Let them exist as they are.

Taste

Slowly place food in your mouth and begin to chew. Observe every flavour. Experience and savour the taste. Pay attention to the changes in texture as you break the food down.

Sound

As you chew, notice the sounds that the food is making. Allow yourself to be open and receptive. Swallow and note every sensation as the food slides down your throat.

When you are mindful, your eating is inspired by genuine hunger, rather than cues that appeal mainly to your senses. For example, the smell of a pepperoni pizza or the tempting vision of a decadent banana split. Be present with your food, and enjoy it fully by removing all distractions. Turn the TV off, put down the smart phones, and remember that emails can wait. Truly be with your food. Devoting your attention to it exclusively increases your chances of being totally satisfied with your meal. Engaging with your food on this level will make mindless eating less and less of a possibility.  

The moment of choice

Every temptation comes with a “moment of choice.” Do we eat that second piece of cake, for example? Or quietly decide that one piece was enough?

The moment of choice can be broken down into 3 main steps:

Trigger
We experience an intense emotion (perhaps a craving to eat)
Response
We decide to overeat
Consequence
A fleeting moment of pleasure followed by shame/relief/numbness ensues

Creating new and healthy habits requires us to be fully present in the moment of choice.

When we learn to identify intense cravings to eat, we can take pause before succumbing to them. This results in making better choices and more positive outcomes. A positive moment of choice might look something like this:

Trigger
We walk by a pizzeria, and find ourselves tempted by the slices showcased in the window
Response
We accept our feelings of temptation, but also take the time to realise indulging them isn’t mandatory. We take 3 deep breaths
Consequence
We decide not to stop inside. We continue walking down the street feeling proud and strong

Every time you choose differently you get stronger.

Each time you overcome, it gets easier.

Remember to celebrate all of your triumphs!

Being aware of the three-step process of trigger-response-consequence can allow us to be fully present in the moment of choice. When triggers emerge, mindful responses to them will bring positive outcomes. Identifying cravings as triggers will make you more likely to respond in ways that will lead to positive consequences, like feelings of pride and satisfaction.

It is important to remember that thoughts and cravings are not commands. A voice in our head telling us to overeat does not mean that we must comply. Mindful eating and the moment of choice give us the time and awareness to make good decisions.

Enjoy trying them out!