From skwigg's journal:
When I first tried to eat mindfully (intuitively), I had no separation between eating and dieting. Eating was dieting! The whole purpose of eating mindfully was to lose weight, right?! But turning it into the "eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full" diet is a trap. That mindset makes it possible to fail or do it wrong. So each decision feels high-stakes with big consequences. Nobody can eat sanely under those circumstances. At each meal you either restrict and "pass" or rebel and "fail."
I love the way Jill Coleman describes it as a spectrum. On one end, you have "brain shut-down" mode where you don't care one bit and you're going to eat yourself into oblivion. On the other end you have restriction and hyper vigilance. People think mindfulness IS that hyper-vigilance and obsession about what/when/how much to eat, but it's not. Mindfulness is in between the two.
Brain Shut-Down Mode--------Mindfulness-------Restrictive Obsession
This bit of information rocked my world! Mindfulness is not about being a lunatic. Who knew?! LOL
Brain Shut-Down Mode is when things get bingey, when you totally numb out. Lots and lots of food, no thinky, not while you're doing it anyway.
Restrictive Obsession and Hyper Vigilance is what I THOUGHT was mindful eating. It's the, "Am I full now? Now? Now? Was that enough? Too much? Should I have one more bite? Or will one more bite be a binge?" It feels like a squirrel fight happening inside your brain while you're trying to eat. This is not mindfulness.
Mindfulness is slowing down, taking a breath, and doing whatever you're going to do with a little awareness. Jill calls it an internal braking system. Instead of instantly reacting to urges and circumstances, mindfulness gives you a bit of time to feel what you're feeling and make a plan. You're just observing yourself and your hunger/mood/surroundings. Some mindful thoughts are things like: Am I hungry? Am I bored? Am I eating this because it's here? Do I need to finish all of this now? How will I feel afterward?
The goal with mindfulness is satisfaction. First, remember that painfully stuffed doesn't equal more satisfied; it's the opposite of satisfied. Then realize that if the goal is satisfaction, it can't be about eating as little as possible or always denying yourself. You may pause, ask some questions, and decide that, YES, you want all of it. Yes, it will feel good to finish it. Yes, you're bored, but eatertainment is exactly what you want right now and it's worth it.
It's not about always stopping, saying no, or eating less. It's about mindfully choosing what is going to be the most satisfying option. Sometimes that's three donuts! Sometimes it's no donuts, or one, or not now, maybe later. You get to choose. It's not possible to do it wrong. Shelli described it well. Inhaling three donuts in a bingey, mindLESS stupor followed by shame and guilt doesn't feel so hot. Choosing to eat three donuts and enjoy every second of them does. It's empowering to own your choices, whatever they may be.
Thoughts? Anybody else mistake mindful/intuitive eating for obsessive overthinking? Or restriction?
It seems to me that if you're feeling rebellion against mindfulness, if you just don't want to think about it so much, you've probably taken it too far toward restriction. Like that's the tip-off. Because when you're only using it to maximize satisfaction, it feels really good and you want to do it more.
Thanks Skwigg! That makes a lot of sense :)
For me, one thing that helped me navigate this at first was aiming for the middle way over and over again. So, when I was making food choices, I wasn't looking for a total blowout where I'd just eat as much as possible and not care. I also wasn't looking for restriction, denial, and eating what I "should" with no regard for what I might enjoy. Instead, I would think, what is the middle ground between the two that will be delicious and satisfying but not cause me to feel stuffed or sad afterward? Start there. I can always keep eating if I want to, or not finish it all if I realize my eyes were bigger than my stomach, but my intention is to shoot for the moderate middle. The more I practiced that, the more I preferred it, and the more easily I started nailing it without much thought.
It's also so important to slow down and pay attention to your food. Not in a nutso, chew every bite 100 times, put your fork down between bites, zero distractions kind of kill-the-fun way. I'm talking, just look at your food while you eat. Smell it. Notice the texture. Savor it. I hate when I'm so rushed or distracted, that I have almost no memory of what I ate. It's just gone. That's a bummer. It's more fun to swoon a little. Swooning is good. Then, when I'm done, my eyes and brain will register the experience of having eaten and I'll feel emotionally satisfied. That doesn't always happen if I just snarf something in a semi-oblivious way.
Bumping this for @olivia. Anybody feel free to add thoughts.