I'll admit it: I'm not always eating mindfully.
by Kiki Athanas
May 09, 2017
I'm passionate about holistic health, nutritious eats, and kind, conscious living - but the truth is, sometimes I struggle with mindful eating myself.
I want to share honestly and authentically what I've found helpful when I get into these zones of...let's just say, less-than-zen eating. It's difficult to be transparent about all of this, but I figure it's the least I can do if I'm to practice what I preach!
*Note that this "opening up" was inspired by my wonderfully in-tune friend Kristina Baresic, who encouraged me to GET REAL and shed light on what's often smoke-and-mirrors in the world of nutritionists and "healthy bloggers" who pretend its all edible flowers and smoothie bowls. (Side note: Smoothie bowls topped with pansies are still very much my religion - don't get it twisted).*
Stress — Binging.
Everyone's binge habits are different - for some it's cigarettes, alcohol, burritos. For me, it can literally be healthy food...like, NOT in moderation. I think we can all relate to relying on something or another to soothe our anxiety or take our mind off of reality. That's fine, until we use it as a crutch, and it becomes unhealthy.
Only you know when you get to this state.
When you do, regardless of the substance/food/whatever you're binging on, here's what you can do:
- Deep belly breathes (i.e. "diaphragmatic breathing"): it activates our parasympathetic nervous system and allows us to wander into the beautifully blissful rest and digest state, rather than the sometimes panic-stricken fight or flight state. Seriously, stopping whatever you are doing to BREATHE can bring you so much clarity, or at least enough clarity to see that what you're up to is not exactly stellar, so that you can take steps to improve.
- Take a walk. Literally getting up and leaving the present situation to go for a "fresh of breath air" can fix basically any problem. Don't quote me on that, but I also dare you to argue with it after having tried it. Sometimes a "change of scenery" is all it takes to re-ground and re-stabilize a flighty sense of self. See? All those silly things your mum told you when you were a child (see advice in quotation marks) have creeped their way into your life once again - and this time you should just listen.
Take a moment for self-care. This can include:
- Taking a bath
- Enjoying essential oils in a diffuser
- Giving yourself a facial
- Dry-brushing (props to Kristina for introducing me to this one!)
- Gardening (honestly, even just watering your plants can be soothing!)
- Meditating (I've been using the Muse headband thanks to my friend Laura, and I find it's a really great way to "get into the zone")
Remember: only YOU know what's best for you.
In the case of over-indulging food-wise - be it a half dozen Krispy Kreme donuts or an entire watermelon in one sitting. There's something I want to make CLEAR: guilt is not productive. Shaming yourself and downright "feeling bad" about what you've done only feeds more anxiety and more harm. In fact, you may be victim of the 'all or nothing' mentality kicking in - so if you've "fudged up" already, you're just going to keep going - cause "screw it".
Here's What to Do Instead:
Remind yourself of one thing you've done today that you're proud of, or that you like about yourself. This sounds like the corniest most pathetic thing ever. But here's why it works: positive thinking is proven to boost your health, skills, and is an all-round way effective strategy for overcoming stress. At least for myself, if I can refocus on "the good", I'm less prone to get lost in "the bad". So instead of being hard on yourself for "messing up", remember all the times you've succeeded - how did you feel in that moment? What brought you there? Just reminiscing on the yay's of yesterday can have a powerful affect on the nay's of tomorrow. Okay, now that's officially the corniest thing ever said, but I still stand by it and believe it to be true.
On a Practical Note:
Sometimes, you really DID just eat too much, and regardless of what "diet" plan you've gone against (god forbid!), you just want to feel better. There are 2 cases here, and I will speak to both.
1. OMFG I need to fix this ASAP --> I need to cleanse/fast the SHIT out of this mistake.
More restrictions, rules, and "impact detoxing" is literally just another phase in this VICIOUS cycle. I know it can seem appealing to "remedy" your "mistake" in a strict manner, but it will only fuel more upset - emotionally and physically - in the long run. Note: cleansing and fasting DO have scientific health benefits, but if you're prone to disordered eating in any way: STAY AWAY!
2. Okay but really, I feel like crap - physically in my gut. I'm hurting.
Once again, a lesson learned from Kristina (did I mention she's a studying Holistic Nutritionist and Energy Healer? Yes, it's starting to make sense now...): SOOTHE YOUR DIGESTION NOT YOUR COLON! While it's not fun to talk about, basically every girl has gone through that moment of desperately searching for a "cleanse" tea to...well, you know. Senna tea is a prime example. Senna leaf literally works to "irritate the lining of the bowel". You may feel a sense of "lightness" after this powerful tea has done it's job, but you're really not healing the organ that needs some aid: your stomach. More specifically, you should be working on your digestion. Kristina suggested a peppermint tincture, and I have recently experimented with fennel and liquorice tinctures with equally positive success. Drops of these extracts in water have a powerful soothing effect on your stomach and can provide a natural and safe source of assistance in feeling better after a binge.
The main take-away: be kind with yourself and make the time to be mindful. Let's face it, eating mindfully doesn't always seem "productive" - scarfing down a smoothie while answering emails and talking on the phone feels a little more "entrepreneurial" and a scene of out the life of a "go-getter". Well go get over it. Taking the time to actually get activate your "rest and digest" state and eating mindfully will pay off in the long-run - when you're properly receiving the nutrients from your food and allowing your body to process (and even excrete) your food optimally. More on that here.
I'll leave you with my most recent obsession as a practical tip: crystal-charged water! Taking the time out each morning to sip on spring water activated with ALL of the glorious things - like Dr. Patrick Flanagan's Crystal Energy, clear and rose quartz, Adya Clarity, and a few other acts of lovingness (like having it sit in moonlight), provides me with a gentle reminder that what I choose to put in my body is sacred. No rules, just gratefulness. It sets the tone and intention for my day, and has been a little daily reminder to slowwwww it down - taking that extra moment to "activate" my water first thing!