“Stuffing your face is not mindful eating. Enjoying the experience of eating your meal with all parts of yourself in an intuitive joyful awareness is mindful eating by heart.”
~ Ronald B Wayman
“Mindful eating is a way to become reacquainted with the guidance of our internal nutritionist.”
~ Jan Chozen Bays
I have been practicing the Live by Heart method of mindful eating for several years now. After a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, emotional gorging, stints of exercise, and bouts of nearly starving myself, it was time to get real help. Though I’ve been in the nutrition field for 20 years and have coached many people, mindful eating was a concept I never really understood before.
You don’t think that mindlessly eating whatever you want is harmful or has consequences, besides a few extra pounds of course. Mindlessly sticking to the new fad diet isn’t necessarily helpful either.
Let’s compare mindful eating and mindlessly eating. I talk to anyone and everyone who will listen about mindful eating. To me, mindful eating isn’t just about being intuitive and present when you eat; it is also about discovering your underlying issues behind why you eat what you eat and the way you eat. It has been a beautiful path for me, and I am passionate about sharing that joy with others.
My sister thought it would be fun to challenge my beliefs!
“You don’t even know what it’s like to eat unhealthy anymore. Just eat whatever you want! What if you feel just fine?”
Well, I have tried to change my diet so many times before, only to have to add another coin to my FAIL bucket.
But my heart has changed. My beliefs changed. This time when I changed my diet, it felt different. I didn’t have to force myself to stick to it. I wanted to eat healthily. I tried to pay attention to and integrate with my body, heart, mind, and soul. I learned how to intuitively eat what my body needs. I can close my eyes and see the beauty of the rainbow of colors in my diet. So many beautiful vegetables and berries. I eat vegetables at every meal.
To my sister’s surprise, I accepted her challenge. I decided to open the door of old patterns and peek inside. Instead of eating what I’m drawn to, I would eat whatever was put in front of my face for two weeks. I ate pizza, ice cream, cake, potato chips, hamburgers, granola bars, cookies, enchiladas, corn dogs, bread, cereal, and more. I still had some of the usual foods I eat: eggs, vegetables, and some berries. And some of the junk foods were eaten in secret, just like old times. I didn’t even tell my business partner I was doing this. That would be too authentic! I would be held accountable! No way!
The first two days I felt incredibly sick.
It was a feeling of being hungry, but not hungry at the same time. It’s when I start to question myself, “Am I going to throw up or do I need to eat something?” My growing headache was not fun either. But after those initial few days, I didn’t feel so sick anymore! Perhaps my sister was right; I do feel just fine! Maybe I can add back in what I call garbage foods, and I’ll be okay! Did it taste good? Some of it did! Ice cream, for example, was my big addiction before I changed my life. I enjoyed it! I thought I would be repelled by it after eating healthy for so long; I know some people are, but not me! However, even though it tasted good, my belly disagreed with me after eating a whole bowl of it. Okay, fine, two bowls. I felt heavy, sticky, and gross. You know that feeling, right?
Was I okay? I always tell people that they have no idea what symptoms they are experiencing are caused by the foods they eat. It has been YEARS since my low back hurt. Suddenly, it was burning all day, every day! I was way more emotional. My feelings got hurt over things that I know wouldn’t have affected me before. I was short-tempered with my children. The joyful bounce in my step was gone.
Speaking of bouncing, I was so exhausted all the time! I was getting more sleep than when I ate healthily and yet I felt extremely depleted during the day. Everything was sluggish, from my thinking to my working to my dealing with kids to my speaking to my walking. I wanted a nap. An all-day-long-nap!
I kept eating food. I didn’t want to stop eating food. It was like I was looking for the nutrients that would wake me up! SURELY the pizza I was eating, or the piece of chocolate I was sucking on would give me the energy I needed to run around with my kids?
Besides the headaches, backaches, and sluggishness, I experienced other unpleasant bodily disturbances like constipation, congestion and a leak that wouldn’t go away. (Oh wait, those were just emotional tears.) Yikes!
Oh, and I gained seven pounds. And that was WITH exercise.
Two weeks was enough for me!
Switching back to my mindful eating and intuitive lifestyle proved to be a bit difficult as well. It seems the effects of eating like crap linger much longer. After feeling so depleted, tired, achy, and depressed from gaining weight, I wanted to crawl into a hole and continue eating. But I know exactly where that road would lead.
So how did I get out of it? I used Live by Heart’s LITE breathing program. While using the Swing Breath technique, I honored the emotions that came up, released them, and meditated on becoming one on the inside again.
Then I started with a glass of celery juice. I swear it never tasted so good! What an amazing experience! I say that because eating like that for two weeks brought awareness to how different I feel when I’m eating mindfully and intuitively, with joy and peace rather than stuffing my face with junk and trying to survive from day to day. Can I eat a piece of cake in a healthy, mindful way? Yes! And I’ve done it! And I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it! It’s a beautiful thing to be able to enjoy those kinds of treats from time to time and not feel the heavy emotional attachment to it.
But my favorite treat is a handful of berries. Yum!
So yes, I do remember what it’s like to eat mindlessly and unhealthily. I suppose I could have done that experiment for months or a year like I know some people have, but I would not be honoring my body that way. I genuinely love to Live by Heart! To be mindful and feel free to choose the way I want to live. To be intuitive and have a healthy relationship with my body, understanding what it needs. I am also grateful for the experiences I had to live inauthentically or out of sync with myself. I get to learn and grow!
Eat by Heart, Live by Heart!
Have you ever experienced drastic lifestyle changes? What was it like? Comment below!
And if you are interested in learning more about Live by Heart’s LITE program, click here. If you are interested in attending one of our Eating with Monsters seminars, click here.