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Mindfulness and Joy of Eating

written byJoan Ridsdelon 06/12/2018

"Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens." – Louise Hay

As the holiday season approaches, I’ve been reflecting on past holidays and how I used to feel about food and my body. 

When I was a member of a weight loss group, meetings leading up to the holiday season were spent preparing ourselves for the inevitable... overeating foods on the “bad” list, that would make us lose our minds and take away our ability to stop at just one bite.    

We left each meeting with a plan to “save” us from ourselves. We were ready to defeat our inner gremlins and become assertive ninjas when pushed to eat more than our points or calories would allow. Or, we reluctantly accepted that our bodies would betray us with weight gain as we ate with wild abandon. 

How many times have you promised yourself you’d “stay on track” during the holidays?

How many times have you “fallen off the wagon” the minute you’ve eaten or drank more than you wanted to? How many times have you sworn to start over and stick to your points or calories in the new year? 

If you’re like me, far too many!

I can’t say that ditching dieting was a quick process or that learning to respect and love my body has been as easy as pie! But I can tell you that as I look back on my life and reflect upon my dieting past, I’m so glad I stepped off the diet rollercoaster and began searching for a saner, more satisfying way to live and be.

When I realized I could stop dieting and learn to eat and live intuitively, I wondered: How could someone like me, who had been dieting for over 40 years, possibly change the way I felt about my body without dieting and the promise of weight loss? 

Food and body freedom seemed like a pipe dream meant for others to achieve, not me!

Interested in applying mindfulness to all areas of your life? Learn more about The Art & Science of Mindfulness. 

And yet, here I am. Ready to enjoy the holidays knowing that I control food, food does not control me.     

I recently met with a small group of women to talk about learning to eat more mindfully and intuitively. We shared our dieting stories and although some of the details were unique, the essence of how we felt about our bodies and the lack of control overweight (gains and losses) was the same. We were experts in how to trick our bodies into becoming smaller and frustrated with biology that refused to bow to our demands. 

One group member shared that her dieting history began at an early age. She, like most of us in the group, had tried diet after diet only to find that weight kept reappearing. The number on the scale never seemed to stay where she wanted it to be.    

As I talked about how our intuition can change our perspective, she mentioned that she recently decided to suspend dieting and started paying attention to how her body felt before, during and after eating. She sighed deeply as she acknowledged that she was tired of fighting with her body. Beginning to feel good about herself, she was amazed that her body size or number on the scale was beginning to fade in importance.    

She was on her way to creating a healthy relationship with food and reconnecting with her body.

You know you’re ready to ditch dieting and start eating and living intuitively when:    

  • You are at the end of your rope with dieting – no matter how much you restrict, exercise or stick to a diet plan, those stubborn pounds refuse to budge
  • Your inner rebel puts up a good fight and stops you when you “should” be counting your points or tracking your food
  • You have a sneaking suspicion that reaching the pinnacle of happiness might not have anything to do with losing weight
  • You’ve lost weight and are still frightened of food, of eating too much or of not exercising enough 
  • Your pattern of turning to food to soothe your feelings and manage your life hasn’t changed whether you’ve lost weight or not

How has worrying about your weight influenced your self-worth, your activities, and how you’ve lived your life? 

If you’re teetering on the brink of jumping off the diet rollercoaster but need a gentle nudge, consider these coaching questions to help you decide: 

  1. What activities would you enjoy doing this holiday season if dieting was no longer your master?
  2. If you took weight off the table, how would you nourish you and your body differently this holiday season?
  3. If you stopped thinking about dieting, what would you begin thinking about, what positive thoughts would fill your mind?
  4. How will you feed your feelings this holiday season without using food? 
  5. Who can you count on to support you? 

How have these questions convinced you to leap into living and eating in a more intuitive and mindful way? What would it be like for you to live your life fully and completely at whatever size or weight you are now?

Happy Holidays!