There was my hand reaching (for the fifth time) into the bag of M&Ms that was leftover from decorating my son’s birthday cake. It was that same mindless emotional eating experience that I have had many times before where the food feels like both an alluring comfort and an all-powerful adversary …and I don’t even really like M&Ms. The encounter was much like running in to an old acquaintance that you no longer have anything in common with nor any desire to talk to and yet there you are hugging them hello and making dinner plans.
As I was watching myself do this there was also a tiny lurking (and now somewhat familiar) voice saying something that sounded like this…”Oh no! What’s happening here? Where is my mindful resolve? This isn’t simply honoring a harmless desire for a chocolate indulgence…this is mindless coping at the end of a tired stressful day…and I know better, I am teaching, writing and coaching on this stuff! Does this mark the end of my career or worse the end of my free and easy relationship with food?”
Then shortly after, in this now established pattern, that small panicky voice of fear is calmed and gently pushed aside by my deeper inner knowing; that true voice of a wiser Self that knows that revisiting these dynamics is part of the journey. Committing to mindful eating also means being willing to watch ourselves get pulled in by food and sit with it, as uncomfortable as it might be, with curiosity. It is about recognizing that our relationship with our body (and with the present moment) is much like any relationship, full of ups and downs, ebbs and flows but that it rests on the firm ground of an underlying commitment. This is the foundation we lean on when our current experience is not kickin’ in to prop us up.
Our deep resolve to kindness with our body and peace with food is not something that can be undone by a few handfuls of M&Ms or a few days of mindless eating triggers. Coming to enjoy freedom with food does not mean we NEVER get pulled into old patterns. What it does mean is that we aim to approach those times with awareness, curiosity and self-compassion. Catching ourselves mindlessly eating handfuls of M&Ms is not viewed as failure on the Deeper Cravings Path™ rather it is positive progression because it allows for the opportunity to offer ourselves handfuls of compassion and trust as well.
Ultimately all we can do is continually remind the scared, tired, frustrated parts of us that living a life free from chronic dieting and freely in our relationship with food & our body is just simply worth it, not easy, but worth it. There is a part of us that KNOWS that the alternative costs far too much; too much energy, too much frustration and heart break and so we persevere and return, again, and again and again and yep, you guessed it, again. There is no pass/fail or good/bad like what we are used to with a diet, a mindful & intuitive approach to eating means we cuddle up with the idea of a ‘grey zone’. Eventually you learn that being called to return to your resolve, your body, your moment doesn’t signify failure on the path rather being called to return IS the path…and the path is sweet, far sweeter than a few handfuls of candy-coated chocolate.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/silkegb/4010835281/”>silkegb</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>
Absolutely love and deeply appreciate your honesty in this post! My life has changed since I began to eat mindfully but there are still those days or isolated incidents when I am reaching for something mindlessly and also wonder “Is this the end of all my hard work?” It is refreshing to know that I am not alone in these feelings or actions and that the key is to offer self-compassion rather than berating myself.
Absolutely love and deeply appreciate your honesty in this post! My life has changed since I began to eat mindfully but there are still those days or isolated incidents when I am reaching for something mindlessly and also wonder “Is this the end of all my hard work?” It is refreshing to know that I am not alone in these feelings or actions and that the key is to offer self-compassion rather than berating myself. Many thanks, Michelle (The Curly Haired Chica)
Thank you Michelle, and thank you for your brave honesty in posting this comment. We are all connected through our vulnerability and masking it under the guise of professionalism just keeps us locked in isolating patterns. Much kindness to you and blessings for your wonderful work!
What a great post. Thanks for sharing it. I feel that this approach can work for so many areas in our life, not just dieting. You have such a skill in making your words come to life.
Thank you so much Kath! Love to you.