Welcome to my brand new blog! I’ve given a lot of thought to what topic I wanted to cover in my very first post and the winner is something that has been a game changer for me - Mindfulness.
You’ve probably heard of mindful eating - giving proper attention to your food while you’re eating it. I want to go beyond that.
When I started the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet in the Fall of 2016, I was forced to give more thought to what I was eating. It also meant cooking my own food, which in turn meant that my refrigerator was always stocked. Not having to decide what I was going to eat freed up mental space that allowed me to start paying attention to how I felt when I began to get hungry and to think about why I wanted a particular food. No processed food allowed meant that when I had a potato chip craving, I had to stop and think about what it was I truly wanted - the potato? The crunch? The salt? (For me, it was always the salt.)
Once I became aware of what I was doing, I became purposely mindful when it came to food and chose to expand that mindfulness to other areas. I was already paying attention to what was going on with my body and mood - that was the whole point of AIP - but instead of just making a note that I felt X mood in the morning on Y day, I would I focus on what I was doing as a result of that mood.
Yesterday is a great example: I’ve been dealing with some cortisol issues and woke up in a bad mood that persisted throughout the day. My fuse was pretty short! When I got home, I noticed something that my boyfriend had done and my first thought was to text him about my displeasure. The potential message running through my brain ranged from passive-aggressive to straight aggressive, the goal of all of them being to start a fight. In the midst of the thoughts, maybe 20 seconds in (it didn’t take long to think of fight-starting texts!), I paused to remember why I was truly in a bad mood and took several moments to think about the way my short fuse was causing such negative thoughts, how those thoughts were causing additional stress, which was in turn increasing the cortisol that was already too high.
Stopping to be mindful about my mood, thoughts, and actions helped me to put a stop of the downward spiral and start taking steps to calm myself. Instead of starting a fight in via text, I asked if we could go a walk that evening and started a silly conversation that put me in a better mindset. Practicing mindfulness in that situation allowed me to not start a fight and put into motion an evening that would provide what I needed physically and emotionally to get back to feeling happy and well. I woke up in a much better mood today!
The key to a mindfulness practice is to start slow. When we try to make huge changes at once, we’re most often doomed to failure because it’s overwhelming. If you’re not practicing mindfulness while eating, start there. Notice all of the details of everything that crosses your lips- the textures, flavors, scents, & colors. If you are already practicing mindfulness in that way, try being mindful about why you chose the menu for dinner. What was it that caused you to choose those particular items? It might be that you had a craving (something else you can examine!) or that one of the ingredients sounded divine. It could even be because it’s your favorite dish - now ask yourself why it’s your favorite.
Life is so much more exciting when we’re not on autopilot!