Monday, October 5, 2009

Mindfulness Is Key to Mastering Appetites

Food is an arena we all share.

It’s therefore something we all think about at times. A fortunate few see it quite simply for what it is ~ a means of nourishment so we can perform to the best of our ability during the day. But many of us have elevated its place in our lives to mythical proportions, and to that degree, it has great power.

I believe the resulting dysfunction of it all is a “we” versus “them” paradigm, separating those who control their food urgings from those who don’t. You may as well substitute the words “winners” versus “losers”, or “right” versus “wrong,” or “fat” versus “thin.”

What happens, then, is we mentally establish camps ~ sort of like Republicans and Democrats ~ and if you’re in one, you can’t be in the other.

But unlike the polarity we project as reality, I rather think we abide not in camps, but on a continuum where we are at times more or less dysfunctional, more or less in control of ourselves ~ more or less at peace.

So while we might look with disdain at the person with the belly overhang who loads up a second plate at a restaurant buffet, we would be well-served to check in to see what might be bringing up all that judgment.

There’s a saying: “You spot it ~ you got it.”

It’s worth paying attention to, I’ve found, if I cast a critical eye at someone else.

I see that from the food journal I’ve been keeping. It’s rather simple. The calmer I am inside, the healthier my choices. More healthy choices lead to an even greater sense of well-being. Things begin to shift as my ego takes a back seat.

Ah, but that’s where it gets dicey. It gets very uncomfortable to give up any of that ~ and it’s at that point important choices are made, every time.

Mindfulness is the orienting compass, because I felt my agitation this evening, and that caused me to review what I put into my mouth during the day.

It was quite clear. I was going in too many directions, with that well-familiar, ego-driven sense of urgency. It was a though the food I ate presented an emotional map ~ instead of starting with a calming, energy rich bowl of oatmeal, I chose a breakfast bar; lunch was light, but dinner wasn’t. Unlike the soups I usually prepare, I had enchiladas and rice, followed by German chocolate cake. By evening I was buzzing, and at 10 p.m. I was wide awake.

If I stay with the “camp” theory, I have to concede that I’m hanging out in both ~ though one, more than the other.

But the continuum idea makes a lot more sense. It’s like a journey, and it has nothing to do with winning or losing, or who’s right or who’s wrong.

It’s whether you are mindful. Because if you are mindful, you can better control your choices.
And isn't that what we really want?

1 comment:

Sheri said...

I liked your metaphor of "camps" and how you presented the feeling of being mutually exclusive (if I'm in one camp, I can't be in the other).

It also brings up the concept of duality. Are there really such opposite sides of anything?

Perhaps even on the journey of healthy eating, our quest is to learn that it is a continuum and finding the balance within the continuum is the ultimate goal.