I try my best to practice mindfulness everyday and in all areas of my life. As a mama, friend, wife, yoga teacher, and health+wellness coach I do my best to promote both inner and outer awareness. I’ll be the first to admit how hard it is to maintain this mentality during the holiday season. The chaos can engulf you forcing you to forget to maintain the most important aspect your life, self-love.
The first to be thrown off course? Food intentions. Our Philosophie Goddess, Marissa Cohen, shares a personal and very real experience on losing a grip of one’s relationship with food and the journey it takes to gain it back.
There’s so much magic in the holiday season, but don’t let yourself get caught up in the chaos. Remember, your relationship with SELF is the most important relationship in this life.
This past week I was listening to Adi and Sophie’s new podcast, which is all about relationships. As I was walking through the chill of the winter air in Boston, I began to reflect on my own relationships. What comes to mind this time of year is my relationship to food, and to myself. Amidst all the holiday parties, finals and other events, I find myself breaking my usual food routine and engulfing a lot more treats. From holiday cook swaps to work parties to family gatherings, there is no shortage of sweets.
For people like me who have struggled with eating disorders, the holidays can bring up anxiety. In the past, I struggled with binge eating. My binge eating started when I was in elementary school and would return home after school to an empty house and a full fridge. I would restrict myself during the day on whichever diet I was dabbling in, only to raid my pantries at 3 p.m.. This continued in different cycles during high school and even in recent years. It became an emotional pattern. I ate to avoid my feelings and I ate out of rebellion to the stringent diet rules I had impressed upon myself. Eventually, I couldn’t even understand why I was binging. The binges were followed by self-loathing, further restriction, attempts to purge, and most of all, sadness. Through therapy, consulting sessions with Sophie, and dedication to inner self work, I have been able to manage my patterns. But the holiday season is triggering. The reality is, most people are overindulging during the holidays. The majority of individuals are eating more than one or two cookies in a sitting. For a former binge eater like myself, there can be a thin line from enjoying yourself and losing control.
Binge eating is defined by a pattern of compulsively overeating. What resonates with me is the fact that it is compulsive. I don’t think there is any amount that can quantify a binge. Likewise, I don’t think people just binge on traditionally “unhealthy" foods. There were many nights that I found myself eating copious amounts of nut butters, healthier versions of treats and entire portions of meals designed to feed four. Instead, I define a binge as the uncontrollable feeling that accompanies overeating. When you binge, it feels like an out of body experience. As if your body goes on autopilot -- you have tunnel vision and all rationality vanishes. My heart would beat faster; my skin would feel hot. I was overtaken with anxiety as I ate and finished shattered in shame. I couldn’t understand what I had done or why I had done it.
As I said, it has taken a lot of work to overcome my binge eating patterns, but the first step was regaining control by practicing mindful eating. It is about slowing down. Taking 10 deep breaths between the time that you open the fridge and opening your mouth. Talking yourself through the feelings before you even begin, instead of beating yourself up once it is done. It is all about learning to eat with intention by learning to let go feelings of guilt and embrace feelings of love. Now, I can eat five cookies from a place of joy if I genuinely and mindfully choose to do so. But, if I don’t connect to myself and let the feelings of guilt and punishment overcome me, it is a completely different experience. It is about learning to make the shift from guilt to gratitude.
There is no perfect method when it comes to eating. Recovering from disordered eating patterns is a process. The first step is learning to become present and aware of your choices. It is not about avoiding certain foods to stop yourself from binging. It is about learning to be able to freely eat whatever you choose from a place of consciousness and intention. It is about knowing that no matter how dark it feels, you are not controlled by your mind and no matter how ingrained your habits are, it is always possible to make a change. This is about loving yourself enough to know that you are worth treating yourself with so, so much love.
Mindful Eating Exercise
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. In your body, feel what it feels like to feel happy and content. Create that feeling by bringing attention to each part of your physical being (your hands, your chest, your belly) and allowing your mind to become heavy without thought. Focus on cultivating the experience by saying to yourself “I inhale self-love, and I exhale self-doubt.”
Want to share ways how you practice mindful eating? Connect with me on Facebook. Share your own stories and tips using #PhilosophieLove or #MyPhilosophie.