Tag Archives: Mindful Eating

On the Thin Side

Sometimes, I am keenly aware of the metal in my hips, as well the plate and screws repairing the fracture in my right femur. It’s not a sensation of pain, it’s warmth, a light sunburn.

I am in awe of sinew uniting metal with bone and muscle as I move into my next yoga pose. I am grateful there is less of my body, not only metal replacing joints but simply less of me, physically.

The words of my orthopedic surgeon return, you tend to the thin side. He has only known this body and not the one that once was so much more; as well, he speaks to this mind that, too, shed “a lot of stuff.”  This mind-body is lighter, simpler now, by necessity.

Perhaps I do live on the thin side. I meet life with as few expectations as possible. It makes meeting the impossible less daunting.

Losing weight was not about numbers. I was desperate for food, caught up in my cravings. I had no idea about real hunger versus comfort eating. The more I ate, the more difficult it was for my body to process food.

And I did not know anything about food so I had no understanding of nutrition or inflammation, an issue that has been with me for 40 years. What I did know is that tests revealed a serious allergy to both wheat and yeast (Brewer’s and Baker’s). I began there, seven years ago.

My digestive issues all but disappeared as I removed wheat (and essentially all grains) and yeast from my diet. The relationship between yeast and sugar is a close one. I reduced my intake of high sugar fruit and high carb vegetables as well.

My emphasis was on what food worked for me, understanding that my body is unique and so are its nutritional needs. It is true that weight vanishes with nutrient dense food. Inflammation is another matter but food plays a role.

To help reduce inflammation, I increased my intake of greens, my fluids, and certain fruits, for me blackberries. For a time diet controlled my inflammation but no longer, as my disease process is now chronic. Yet, medication works better when I feed my body what it can use rather than what it cannot.

If the way I live is a tendency to the thin side, then yes. I carry less, which seems to make more possible. The opposite was true years ago when I was so much more but on the fringe of life, a side too thin.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

A Taste of Shenpa, Hot and Spicy Wings

As one who loves to eat, I am always on the lookout for food’s goodness. For 58 years, there was not a food or drink that I did not indulge, no matter the consequences to my health.

Six years ago, those consequences came to call. The years of binge eating and poor nutrition choices resulted in numerous food allergies. Every time I ate, I was in digestive discomfort and my joints hurt.

I was always hungry, unable to absorb most nutrients. It took three years of researching and experimenting to figure out which foods feed my body.

Sometimes, I resort to old eating behaviors. It often happens as I come out of an autoimmune disease flare up. It is the craving mindset—shenpa in Buddhism—getting hooked or sucked in by an old choice.

I have been craving hot and spicy wings, a mindset that accompanied most of my flare-up. Yesterday, the mindset broke through. I wrote through lunch and into the midpoint of the afternoon. It was too early for supper and too late for dinner.

decisions-decisions-0313

That is prime time for purchasing hot and spicy wings prepared by a nearby grocery store. They are not breaded, no sugar is used but they do have natural flavorings, a catchall ingredient that is ever mysterious and never natural.

I told myself I would eat just a few, maybe four, and so I ate six, possibly seven. Within a few hours, I was feeling the effects but this time a poor choice proved a good result.

For the first time, the reality of joint pain and digestive discomfort–increasing inflammation–was more powerful than my craving for hot and spicy wings.

Insufficient fuel for my body—mindfulness—meant more than mindset.

Literally, the pain from eating the wings was more powerful than my craving. It seemed only seconds and the craving was gone. I doubt its return.

There is something to be gained for straying into food choices that do not fuel my body. Over time, I have learned which nutrient dense foods will help even out my body’s reaction.

This time, I got results within hours; that does not always happen. I remain grateful.

Eating mindfully is not about labeling food as good or bad. There’s no judgment involved. Mindful eating means being aware of what each food offers my body. All food is fuel. The choice is mine.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity in daily doses. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page. 

 

Learning to Eat an Orange

There are some people who eat an orange but don’t really eat it.

They eat their sorrow, fear, anger, past, and future.

Thich Nhat Hanh

I was such a person. Eating and drinking kept me in a comfortable, albeit blurred, presence. Six years ago, my body said, “Enough!” Ultimately, I turned into a nutritional research laboratory.

I wanted to learn to eat an orange.

embraceable-091016Like health and sexuality writer August McLaughlin, I wanted to discover food’s “goodness… Discover what particular foods did for me. If they were not for managing weight, why eat?”

Employing different methods, we both discovered that food is fuel. The concept is basic but nutrition is layered in nuance. It is one thing to understand the nutrients in food; it is another to create a mindful meal.

Mindful eating is not about good or bad food. Rather than judgment there is an awareness of what each food offers us. We choose our fuel.

Experiment after experiment showed me that grains, starches, dairy, and yeast do not offer me nutrients that my body can easily absorb. No matter how many times I varied my hypothesis, the results were the same.

Acceptance was slow as was finding food that pleased my palate as well as my digestive system. Yet, the more mindful I was in my eating, the more creative I was in my cooking.

Only in retrospect do I recognize what a tidal wave of impermanence this was. I continue to experiment, sometimes returning to food I once enjoyed.

Always, I find the memory more pleasant than the reality. It is as if I “grew” new taste buds, letting old ones wither.

Regardless, it is mindful eating, selecting the fuel and accepting the outcome without judgment.

* From Embraceable: Empowering Facts and True Stories About Women’s Sexuality, August McLaughlin. The essays in this collection celebrate women’s sexual empowerment. These are unique stories–compelling, insightful, and inspirational.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity in daily doses. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.