Early in my research for A Deeper Kind of Craving I was interested to notice that when I would eat mindfully there was a feeling of great abundance on my plate even with a very moderate portion size. One day I poured a small bowl of cereal and took the first bite very mindfully noticing all the tastes and textures: the crunchiness of the grains, the coolness of the milk etc. Each bite was such a full experience that then looking down at the bowl and all the remaining bites, it seemed like there was so much in it. I not only felt certain that there would be enough food; I also wondered whether I could finish the bowl. What surprised me was noticing how little I actually put in my bowl, probably a third the portion I would have poured in the past. I wasn’t intentionally trying to eat less, just trying to honestly respond to what my body needed. The result was the creation of a new “enough”. This punctuated for me how truly disconnected we actually are much of the time from the bodies we inhabit.
This past weekend I attended a workshop on Ayurveda, the ancient Indian health system. The presenter, a Ayurvedic practitioner from India, talked about the North American tendency towards overeating. She went on to say that in Ayurveda there is a belief that all we need at any one meal is the amount that can fit into our cupped hands. There was a time when I would have heard this and scoffed at such an idea, one that really challenges our North American culture of supersize and jumbo portions. However, on this day I found myself looking down at my cupped hands and knowing that she was right.
My journey in mindful eating showed me first hand that when we actually listen to our bodies we realize that we actually need much less to nourish us than what we are used to taking in. Becoming present allowed me to be more attuned to the actual needs of my body both in portion size required and in the types of food I eat. Eating mindfully opens up a new process of dialogue between us and our bodies. We become accustomed to asking our body what it needs and discover that it is only when we are fully present that we can clearly hear what it is communicating.
When we are engaged in the practice of mindfulness our bodies are more awake than in our usual state. We develop a meta-awareness that notices everything and is highly in tune with our bodies needs. This creates a new capacity in us to check in with our bodies through the eating process and continually assess whether or not we have satisfied our hunger. For many of us this a very new way of determining when to stop eating. Typically, we are in the habit of cleaning our plate, the empty plate becomes the cue to stop eating rather than the actual requirements of our bodies.
In the small story above about my breakfast cereal it is possible to see how through mindfulness we can achieve and sustain a healthy weight without dieting. However the difficulty with this, similarly to dieting, is maintaining the resolve and the moment by moment commitment to engage in the present moment. That was my main motivation in developing the Deeper Cravings course, https://deepercravings.com/course-outline/ to offer support and guidance on this new and challenging path. While the challenge is perhaps as difficult as a diet, the stark difference is the kindness and empowerment it offers. A further difference is the instant gratification.With mindfulness the rewards are in the experience itself; not through waiting for particular numbers to appear on a scale. Transformation is not just about a before and after photo as it is in a diet; transformation is available moment to moment.
© Deeper Cravings, 2012.