Once again I am following along with the exercises in Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time by Pavel Somov, Ph.D.. I tried to do these previously, but chickened out after doing a few of the practices. I saw some of the things that were further in the book and anticipated discomfort and fear. Michelle, who sometimes plays my Jiminy Cricket, would of course point out that it means i should do them, but i put the book on the shelf instead.
Since i’m trying to develop a healthy relationship with food, i felt like this was a good time to come back to it.
The first section is in relation to triggers, the things that tell your mind or body to eat or what to eat. For example, you might drive by a billboard for Dunkin Donuts and suddenly desire coffee (a particular challenge of mine!). Triggers can be timing, sights, smells, places, emotions, experiences or just about anything else.
The first practice in the book is to ask, after you eat, “Why did I just eat?”. He doesn’t suggest modifying anything, just simply notice why you ate. Since I’m currently trying to be healthier and modifying some habits, the results of this exercise show some bias. Had i done this a few weeks ago there would be a lot more reasons like boredom, sadness, loneliness, craving, habit and unknown. I allowed myself to have multiple reasons for each time i ate, although he suggest finding the primary reason.
Out of 31 “eating incidents” (meals and snacks), almost 75% of the time hunger was a factor. That’s a great sign for me, indicating i’m not overeating as much as i have in the past. An additional 6% included feeling thirsty, which makes sense, as they were at breakfast when i’ve been having fruit & veggie smoothies.
5 out of 7 breakfasts also included the word “fuel”, which was a feeling of needing energy, but not really feeling hunger. I suspect this is because i have been working out in the mornings before breakfast, which often reduces my appetite for an hour or so.
Almost half of the times i ate were at least in part triggered by time. I’ve always known routine and habit drive me, but didn’t consider how it effected my eating habits. Since many of those times i was also at least beginning to feel hungry, I’m guessing my portions are about right for my schedule. Lunches and snacks at work also sometimes were at least partially due to wanting a distraction or entertainment. My week day lunches are an excuse to stop report writing or calculations and read or write for pleasure. I should be careful not to just assume noon means break for lunch, but to make sure i listen to my body.
There were cravings, mostly for sweet, which isn’t shocking for me. Some of those corresponded with emotional needs, and others with aiming to meet my calorie quota for the day. I’ve said before, I don’t think cravings are all bad, so long as they are managed and accounted for.
Other reasons I ate? Knowing food wouldn’t be available later when i would be very hungry, wanting to try something new when it was offered, being tempted by the scent of fresh bread, feeling cold and tired, and being at an event where eating was expected (although i timed my other meals so i would be hungry at the appropriate time). There were also two incidents were was disappointed with earlier meals (both flavor and portion size) where i didn’t make great choices later on. That’s definitely something I’ll need to work on managing in the future.
I’m currently working on Practice 2, which is similar, but asking before you eat “Why am I about to eat?”, then choosing to eat or not. As i’m currently having a little trouble remembering to write things down before I eat, I may go a little longer than a week on this, but we’ll see what i discover!