Category Archives: Mindless Eating

Mindfulness teaches us how to respond in 1/2 second or less

How many times have you done a particular behavior even though you’ve told yourself just as many times that you aren’t going to do it ever again?  Be honest. You don’t have to tell anyone.  But, you do have to live with the consequences of your behavior.  This morning it was me getting mad and throwing up my hands at the lady in the big red SUV behind me at the stoplight.  The second the light turned green she was honking at me and it really caught me off guard.

imagesCATU9PPADid you know that you have one-half of a second between the time you see something, hear something, think something, or read something before you engage in a behavior.  For instance, you have one-half of a second after you see the chocolate cake with chocolate icing in the break room at work to decide “I’m not going to have any because I’m not hungry” or just mindlessly gobble down a piece (or two).  That’s why you might be on the “see food, eat food” diet.  You’re just not present for that one-half of a second when you could choose the behavior based on your real hunger.

This means that you have to be REALLY PRESENT to catch that one-half of a second.  Just think about how many minutes and hours go by that you aren’t really present and the enormity of this proposition becomes clear.  Cheri Huber wrote, “We don’t lack self-discipline, we lack presence.”   I tell this to people in my classes who are working on not eating when they’re stressed, bored, or distracted. It’s not about self-discipline; it’s about being aware of where you are and what you are doing. Continue reading

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Take the “craving” challenge!!

This is an addendum to an earlier post I wrote entitled “Riding the Urge.”  In the post I described Alan Marlatt’s metaphor of “urge surfing” as a way of staying present with the intensity of craving without needing to act on it.  He actually suggested that you picture the urge as an ocean wave and imagine yourself surfing, using the breath as a surfboard to ride the wave.  You can breath deeply as you feel the urge rising and falling, like a wave.  Imagine yourself riding the wave of the urge through its peak and its decline.  

I suggested that you pay attention to the cravings and urges you have for food as well as the urges and cravings you have for other things–shopping, gossiping,  arguing, drinking, watching TV, etc.  If you can pay attention to how you are being pulled into various activities or behaviors before you act on them, you have greater choices in life. 

This week in the Eat for Life class we were talking about how to cope with our emotions without using food.  Because, let’s face it, one of the reason why we have “urges” and “cravings” for some guilty pleasure or “fix” is often because we are trying to suppress or avoid an unpleasant emotion or situation.

 So, here’s the challenge!! (and it is the one I gave my class).   At least once this week, determine with all your might, that you will not give into at least one craving (whether it is for food, shopping, or whatever).    Determine ahead of time (like now) what regular craving you have that you will not give in to –at least once.  When that craving arises, check the time then go ahead and re-engage in whatever you were doing.  In the background, notice when the craving ends and how long did it take?  Maybe the craving ends and maybe it doesn’t.  It is all useful information.  Sometimes cravings pass and sometimes they are still there but you notice that you don’t have to act on them.   Both of these experiences are quite helpful to know for yourself. 

I’ll give you an example.  I don’t usually have what I call “cravings” for food anymore.  When I want food, I eat it and I eat it from a calm and centered place so that I don’t “act out” around food and it is not a problem.  However, I do have “urges” and “cravings” around shopping.  I am particularly attracted to sales (never want to pass up a bargain) and boots (there are two pairs in particular that I am currently lusting after).   I say this to point out that we ALL have cravings and food is just one particular area that we can get caught.  

I think we are not very skilled in this culture to take care of our emotional needs.  We have been so used to using food (or shopping) that it is what we naturally turn to.  Take some time this week to find more healthy, skillful ways of nurturing yourself.  Examples that quickly come to mind include taking a walk, calling a friend, reading a book or interesting magazine, playing or listening to music, meditating, doing yoga, coloring or painting, cooking for fun, getting a pedicure or massage.  In addition, give yourself some time to fully allow your feelings, particularly if they are difficult.  Imagine holding them like you would hold a small child.  Bring compassion to yourself and the challenges that you face from day to day.  By befriending yourself through nourishing activities and with time to experience your emotions you might find the “urges” and “cravings” to fix with food come less often.

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How yoga changes how you eat!

There is a fairly new measurement of “mindful eating” that was published in the American Dietetic Association Journal (Framson, et.al., 2009) that I am very excited to start using in my research here at the University of Missouri.  Their findings regarding the relationship between doing yoga and mindful eating was also particularly intriguing. Continue reading

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TV can ruin your health

grocery store horrorI don’t watch that much TV, but it was pointed out to me how awful the food ads are, particularly from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. (exactly when people tend to sit in front of the TV and eat).  The food that’s advertised tends to be similar to the food that you see in the picture associated with this blog.  This was an actual picture taken by a friend of mine of the food being purchased at a local grocery story by a couple in front of her in the checkout. I see nothing that could be called “real food.”  My friend (who is a fabulous cook) was so appalled at the sight of it that she had to take a picture on her I Phone.  She knew I’d be horrified as well. Continue reading

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Do you know what you’re eating?

I love the news I get on Salon.com.  The article I just read should put one more hole in the fabric of any of your reasoning for eating processed food. The article is entitled “The secret to the immortality of McDonald’s food: The chain’s burgers can resist rot for years.  Scientists explain why they have the shelf life of the undead’ by Riddhi Shah.  Click here and be prepared to save you and your children from McDonalds (and similar un-food) forever.

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“Happy Meals” might not be so happy after all.

HiResThe Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is taking on one of my favorite corporations I love to hate—McDonalds!! Yes, McDonald’s is being sued for using toys to sell their “happy meals” that turn out to be pretty unhealthy (Surprise! Surprise!).  Marketing unhealthy foods to children so that you can make money seems pretty contemptuous and predatory.  According to CSPI, tempting kids with toys is unfair and deceptive.    Children can’t really be expected not to fall prey to the marketing of popular toys with their meals or to make informed decisions about the nutritional value of their food.  Parents suffer the pestering of their children who basically want the toys Continue reading

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Eating in Peace Park

peace park 002Ever notice that when you are stressed or anxious or sad or angry you feel it in your “gut?”  The obvious answer would be “YES.”  The reason may not be so obvious or well-know.  The enteric nervous system, which is located in the stomach is a kind of “mini-brain” that contains as many neurons (nerve cells) as the spinal cord and is connected to the brain in a two-way messenger system.  The “gut” not only registers our emotions but helps shape them.  Continue reading

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Too many choices?

In Brian Wansink’s book, Mindless Eating, his lab reports that the average person makes well over 200 decisions about food every day.  Unfortunately, we are often not aware when we are making these choices and these mindless choices have consequences.   According to Wansink, if we were more aware of why we ate the way we do, we would “eat a little less, eat a little healthier, and enjoy it a lot more.”

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