Renee Little, R.D.
How Can Mindfulness Improve Your Relationship with Food?
If you follow along on my IG or if you are in my private FB group you likely would have seen a few video posts these past few weeks on this topic. However I know not everyone is keen on watching videos and if you are reading this blog...you are likely one of those people who love to read information over watching videos.
That lead me to create this blog post! I wanted to share with you the first mindfulness post in a series of 5 about how mindfulness can help you to improve your relationship with food.
What is Mindfulness?
Let's establish what mindfulness actually is before moving on. Mindfulness is simply paying attention, on purpose, without judgement. My Dad recently experienced learning about mindfulness and he was fairly skeptical about the whole thing. He was enrolled in a chronic pain clinic class of how to use mindfulness to manage pain. He wasn't going to go and said "Renee, what will they even teach me, it seems a little out there.!!" I encouraged him to go because it was free, it is an evidenced based program and they have helped multiple individuals manage their pain....so he gave it a try!
A few weeks later we were chatting on the phone and he mentioned he went to the class. He said "Renee mindfulness is not big deal. Mindfulness is just about breathing and paying attention to your body." Hahaha....I laughed and smiled. YES!!! Exactly! It is a simple concept that seems very "woo woo" to so many people that they dismiss it altogether.
Mindfulness is simply paying attention, on purpose, without judgement.
How do you practice mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be practiced both formally and informally.
- Yoga class
- Taking three deep breaths (anywhere you are)
- Just taking a moment to connect to and bring attention to your body's sensations, your stomach's cues, your thoughts.
You can use this breath meditation to get you started:
How does mindfulness help to improve our relationship with food?
In the rest of this blog post I'm going to share how you can use mindfulness to recognize your negative food thoughts. Our thoughts about food are very important! Our thoughts inform and create our relationship with food.
Negative Food thoughts include:
I shouldn’t eat that cookie, it will just go straight to my stomach
I just ate a burger, now I need to work out extra tonight
Wow cookies are so bad for me, I shouldn’t eat them even thought I’d really like one right now.
I need to eat perfectly today, I have a big event next week. Ugh I just ate a cookie, now my whole day is wasted. I may as well just eat the whole box.
I shouldn’t be eating this muffin even though it’s soooooo good…. I better skip lunch no matter what even if I’m hungry.
Sweets are so bad for me. Why do I keep eating them???
I shouldn’t eat anything after 8pm, even when home from the gym and I’m feeling hungry.
I better not eat that bagel, even thought I really want it, it has way too many carbohydrates
I ate way too much food (even if you were hungry and feel satisfied and not over full)
I didn’t exercise today, I better not eat much dinner….ugh I should cut out the carbs entirely.
When you learn and practice mindfulness before eating and during/after eating…you can become more and more aware of your negative food thoughts.
How can you start to be more aware of negative food thoughts?
You cans start by using a breath meditation…taking a few breaths before a meal or snack and checking in. You can also simply check in and pay attention to your thoughts when you’re making food decisions.
Why this is important is that once you start being able identify your thoughts then there is opportunity to shift and change.
1. You can journal your thoughts.
2. Start to explore why these thoughts are so present.
An example is: are they from family food beliefs and practices, are they from different diet, perhaps influence of other people (spouse, friends, coworkers)? It also come from lack of self trust perhaps not believing your can trust your own body to decide what, when and how much to eat. 3. You can challenge these thoughts as truth vs. myth
4. When you challenge and understand your thoughts you can start to quiet them, replace them with new thoughts and give the negative thoughts them less power.
There’s a lot to unpack once you can recognize your food thoughts and that happens using mindfulness and if you would like some help to explore your thoughts or even get started on this activity it can help to have the support of a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor (oh yes that's me!).
Book a free call if you would like to explore this further or have started and need some support.