Just a few days ago I presented a workshop on this topic at Delnor Health And Wellness Center in Geneva, Il. (Actually the name of the presentation was “What’s Getting in the Way of Healthy Eating,” but it’s really the same issue.”
I had an amazingly receptive audience of men and women who seemed to have left leaving a bit unsettled. And that’s a good thing. That tells me that they were taken out of their comfort zone and challenged to raise their standards of eating well. Hurray!
At first I asked them to raise their hands if they already knew what they were supposed to be eating. I’m pretty sure everyone raised their hand. So it seems Americans know what to do, especially with all the endless resources we have via the internet, yet there’s something stopping them from eating healthy. That’s because we are not eating because we are hungry. We are eating to escape, deny and avoid the present moment. The present moment allows us to be aware of what we are feeling, thinking and experiencing. Yet when those thoughts, feelings and experiences are what we might deems as negative or unacceptable, we bolt! We hide out in ways that are not healthy. And we do this not only in the area of our health, but in all other areas in our lives including our relationships, our jobs, our community and our children! It’s one big ripple effect.
Our nation is at an all time high for adult obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and stroke and what’s more is that our kids are affected just the same.
We are programmed to seek short term gratification seeking pleasure with video games, tv, the newest technology, alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping and food. Just take a look next time you are at the food court in your local shopping mall and notice the percentage of shoppers who are obese.
So what needs to shift? What needs to shift is the willingness to feel, to be present so that you can experience the moment because each moment offers wisdom; the wisdom to change your current non working habits.
I led the workshop participants through a short centering meditation so that they could experience the present moment. They didn’t want me to stop because they began to relax, focus and let go of the busyness of their day. Most of them shared that the biggest reason that they don’t eat properly is because they are so stressed and overwhelmed and therefore don’t make the time to prepare healthy meals. And when we are stressed we ‘live’ in our heads, leading us on that continuous cycle of sabotaging habits.
The prize is in the present moment. It’s about being able and willing to stop before you put something in your mouth to notice what you are feeling, to identify what’s driving you to eat. Usually it’s because you are bored, frustrated, stressed, resentful or just downright lazy! Yet it doesn’t work. It’s disempowering and creates more frustration because short term gratification denys us balance in our mind, body and spirit.
Close your eyes and relax. Then bring to mind the last time you had a meal. Notice what was going in you at that time. What were you thinking? What excuses or justifications were you telling yourself? What were you feeling? It’s that simple! Get out of your mind and into the sensations and feelings in your body, and trust me, you will create a totally new experience that will drive you to new behaviors. It takes practice, but it works.
Let me know how it goes, and notice how much your eating habits can change. Instead of stufing yourself with unhealthy food because you are stressed, you can look at others ways to ‘feed’ your stress and enjoy feeling empowered and motivated to honor your body and create lasting change.