The Downside of Mindful Eating
I remember gleefully watching chick flicks with my friends in high school. We’d head to the supermarket first to pick out the junkiest and most delicious snacks ever to accompany our movie-watching binge. Make no mistake, we were junk food connoisseurs Mallow-mars for Sixteen Candles , Keebler fudge stripe cookies for Stealing Home and of course, cool ranch Doritos for Pretty in Pink and some coke to wash it all down. This was before I was a full-time professional dieter, of course.
I’d like to believe it was my as-yet undeveloped palate that brought me to those foods time and again. But I know it was so much more. It was the gestalt of the moment in time for me: The bonding time with my friends, the ritual of being surrounded by junk food while we watched junky movies and just blissed out in our own distracted yet joyful company together. We’d dish out all of our teenage angst energy together and wash it down with a b-grade movie and some processed food and forget our hormone-fueled problems, at least for a little while.
As I got older and learned how much I loved simple, natural, unprocessed foods and vegetables, whole, plant-based balanced meals became my staple with only the occasional bout of late-night skittles-binging or dance with a box of sunchips.
But, there were foods that I felt were forbidden to me, because of the rules I had placed on myself as a chronic dieter. There were foods that I felt had to be hidden from me lest I have one and crack open that door that I had worked so hard to stay shut as an erratic emotional eater.
But now I know better. Now I realize that by slamming shut those “bad” foods I only invited them more deeply into my psyche and desired them even more.
When I finally adopted an intuitive and mindfulness based way of eating, so many things shifted for me:
My deja vu dieting ended much to my relief.
Foods began to have a more complex and richness to it that I had never experienced before.
My GI issues abated because I had finally slowed down and could truly chew and effectively digest my food.
I became far more judicious about what I ate or didn’t eat and knew instinctively when to stop eating based on how my body felt rather than what others were doing, what the clock said or if there was still food on the plate.
All of this was a marvel and a gift to me and helped me create a much healthier and happier relationship with food all around.
But, there was one downside…
All the processed foods I thought I loved, could not live without, and even had to hide and/or was fearful of for its weight-gaining properties became very unpalatable to me.
You might be thinking that i’m crazy and that is actually an amazing by-product of mindful eating, right.
But for me it was tinged with sadness.
For example, on Halloween, I used to be obsessed with reese’s peanut butter cups. Like, it was the only time of year where I allowed myself to eat them. Before I became a mindful eater with an abundance mindset around food, I’d hoard my peanut butter cups. I’d eat massive amounts of them and quickly because i knew i’d restrict myself of them for a whole year after.
After become a mindful eater, get this….I no longer even like them! They taste fake to me now, the chocolate tastes processed and the experience is not enjoyable.
Again, you may be asking why I consider this a downside.
It has to do with our identities as eaters. Because I held fast to those beliefs about myself. Who would i be if I no longer identified with being obsessed with recees peanut butter cups? It felt foreign to me. And if I was no longer beholden to certain foods simply because of the story I created around those foods, who was I actually as an eater. Could it be that my beliefs were faulty all along?
All that time I spent worrying and obsessing about and restricting certain “trigger” foods was wasted time. Had I known what the other side looked like, I would have been filled with a sense of freedom and choice that I never felt I had. Someone was always telling me eating these things were wrong: myself, my peers, society. I began to fear the very foods that I thought would bring me pleasure, and by doing so cut myself entirely from the experience of pleasure with food at all. Because pleasure with food = weight gain, disease, GI distress, unloveable body, etc.
So, it’s a downside because with newfound knowledge of which foods you actually like and find pleasurable may be totally and completely different than you thought and there is some cognitive dissonance associated with that.
What? I don’t actually like cool ranch doritos? That’s blasphemy!
I mourn the time I wasted moralizing food and not just figuring out what I actually truly enjoyed to eat. Had I listened, the answer would have been healthy and balanced all along. I mean, of course I still enjoy some cookies and chips like the best of them. But, my palate has changed. I’m much more picky and judicious about what I eat. Even ice cream doesn’t have the same joie de vivre that it used to for me. This fact is both a marvel to me and incredibly weird and off-putting.
I wish I knew years ago that I could completely rewrite my food story.
And guess what….you can too.
Start by enrolling in my free 7-day mindful eating course and get a little taste of what the power of mindful eating can bring YOU.