By now you're probably well aware of the benefits of mindful eating.
Slowing down and truly being present as you eat your food is not only good for your mind but also for your digestion.
Without the distraction of our phones or other technological devices we also learn to listen to the cues that our body gives to say that it's had enough.
However, every now and then something happens that throws even the best mindful eater off.
We all react differently when things happen in our lives that we cannot predict, and emotions are powerful influencers of how, when and what we eat.
Some of us stop eating and others start eating a whole lot more when stressed or overcome by sadness.
I am, for example, someone who tends to eat more whenever something shifts me off balance.
Let me give you an example.
A little while ago I was given the opportunity to teach at a retreat in Greece. On my way home I experienced all sorts of stress and other emotional trials that when I arrived at Luton airport to take the final plane home (after already travelling for over 8 hours) and my bags didn't show up at first I was distraught. I had just over an hour to catch my next plane, it was cold and I was tired, and I ended up doing something I've not done previously - I turned to the vending machine for comfort.
Now out of all the choices available within there I probably went for the healthiest option however it was well below my normal standard of eating.
“Luckily” for me the next plane was delayed so I had time to eat dinner - a huge portion of pulled pork.
Unluckily for me the plane was delayed for over three hours.
I turned again to food for comfort - a massive piece of chocolate cake.
Believe me when I say this girl can eat!
When the flight information boards finally announced what time we were to take off I went to get my usual bottle of water before boarding.
However, being exhausted both physically and mentally I did another completely out of character thing, and bought a bag of candy.
When I arrived home in Monaco by 1am I’d eaten half of it.
Sugar upon sugar upon sugar, but here’s the twist - I’d like to argue that I was still eating mindfully.
You’re probably now thinking “ok she’s delusional” but hear me out.
Mindful eating is being aware of your body and its needs.
It’s knowing when to eat and when to stop.
It’s also knowing why you’re feeling peckish or craving certain things.
I know full well why I was craving all that sugar.
I also very much know that this was a one time thing.
I’m being mindful and allowing myself to eat all that cake and candy while also not giving myself guilt for doing so.
I know that the next day I won’t eat anything like that, and I know that had I not given myself that chocolatey indulgence I would have felt even more frazzled.
I didn’t eat that huge slice of cake and then dig myself further into an emotional hole by thinking “you’re such failure for giving into temptation”.
I liked the snack bar. I took comfort in the pulled pork. I fully enjoyed that cake. I loved the candy.
So here’s the moral - know and question your cravings.
Mindfulness is being totally aware and present in the current moment.
Some days I know why I am craving something but I also know that actually it will probably make me feel worse in that situation.
Some days I know that those same cravings will actually give me a little bit of a boost, if only for comfort.
Be mindful of what you’re eating and why, but be even more mindful of the thoughts you have afterwards.