Like most, on the top of my list of resolutions for this year is to eat better. This year, I want to change the way I eat, not just to fit into the very cute size 3 skinny jeans that I were baggy before I had kids, but to be a better example for my two daughters and because I need to for my own long-term health goals.
Motherhood Made Me an Emotional Eater
…Or, so I’ve been telling myself for the past few months.
As a mom (particularly a stay at home mom), food has become my drug of choice for “dealing” with stress. It’s my quick fix to relieve anxiety from tantrums and missed naps, and to “handle” sleep deprivation. I eat, usually, in a hurry, and mindlessly. I eat often during my children’s short nap times and sometimes during their busy mealtimes and, usually, so quickly that I end up overeating.
In resolving to eat better this year, my stated goal is not to lose the last ten pounds of my baby weight (I had a baby in October of 2011). This time, my goal is to change my relationship with food. I plan to eat better by practicing something called mindful eating, or eating with awareness of your hunger cues, your senses, your response to food, and of the effects of the food you eat on your body.
So, to eat mindfully, I’ve made a list of my own mantras, my mindful eating mantras (as I call them), They’re written on a piece of notebook paper currently held by a Disney magnet on my refrigerator door and they’re also on a piece of paper folded and stored in a pocket of my purse. My mantras (bolded) and their translations are:
- Only eat when you can enjoy your food. What this means: I will eat only when I am sitting down, when my children aren’t screaming in my ear, and when I don’t feel rushed.
- Experience food with all of your senses and be present, always present. What this means: Whenever I put something in my mouth with the purpose of fulfilling hunger, I will live within that moment. I will remember to breathe and chew. I will smell my food. I will look at my food (without judgment). I will experience eating fully.
- Eat when you feel emotionally fulfilled. What this means: Food, I’ve learned through my own journey, cannot fill voids that I often encounter in being a mom, particularly a stay at home mom, or the voids of loneliness, boredom, or stress. Instead of eating my troubles away, I must first acknowledge them and then work through them (without food).
- Eat and be accountable for your choices. What this means: If I eat it, I must write it down. Food tracking. I don’t do this every day, but every so often I do just to assess my progress. When food tracking, I write down everything I’ve eaten (and I mean EVERYTHING!), how much I ate of it, the food’s caloric value, and how I feel afterwards.
- Don’t be afraid of hunger. What this means: Feeling hungry is normal. It’s healthy. You will not, I must remind myself, die from it. Feeling hungry is what needs to happen in order for me to eat just enough to satisfy that need.
If you to have the goal of healthier eating in this New Year, I encourage you to create a list of your own healthy/mindful eating mantras. Your mantras can be the same as mine or different. They should be written after some introspection of your current eating habits, what you’d like to change, and why. Make your list and display it somewhere that you can see it each and every day.
I started my mindful eating journey back in December of 2011 (along with moderate exercise three times a week). Since then, I’m proud to report that I’ve lost three pounds. Yes, only, seven pounds to go. Oh, and my jeans are fitting better, too. Most importantly, I’m happier. I feel more in control and feel more like an example I’d like to set for my girls.