30 days of mindful eating: challenges and learnings

I took this photo at my friends' house several months ago. I don't think when they wrote this on their menu board that their intention was to make it the perfect picture for a mindful eating post. :)

I took this photo at my friends' house several months ago. I don't think when they wrote this on their menu board that their intention was to make it the perfect picture for a mindful eating post. :)

Tomorrow marks the end of my 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge. This week, I'll share challenges and learnings from each of the three aspects of the challenge: mindful eating, morning meditation and the screen curfew. 

I've practiced mindful eating before. I even read a book about it once.

I liked it, but it never stuck as a habit. Food tracking was my habit.

This 30-day challenge has helped me form habits I hope to keep. Here's a refresher of what the mindful eating portion of my 30-day challenge is all about:

Before I eat anything, I will check in with my body. How hungry am I? What does my body want to satisfy that hunger? An apple? Pizza? Whatever it is, I will honor my body's intuition. Secondly, it means I will not multi-task while eating. If I'm eating, I will be focused on the food. Not the TV, computer or my phone. This will prevent the stuffing-my-face-mindlessly-because-why-not saga we have all done. I also hope it will help me enjoy my food more and have more gratitude for my food.

As this 30-day period comes to a close, I'd like to share the challenges I've faced and lessons I've learned through 30 days of mindful eating.

Overcoming the Challenges

Challenge 1: Number Numbness

At first it was hard. I didn't realize just how mindlessly I ate. When I gave up tracking my food, mindful eating became much easier. I could focus on my cravings, needs and foods' flavor and texture more easily without numbers numbing my physical senses. 

Challenge 2: Screens are Everywhere

Before this challenge, I was checking my phone during breakfast, working in front of my computer every day at lunch and watching TV during dinner. Every. Day.

Old habits die hard. Especially my screen addiction. I have to admit — I've slipped a few times during the lunch hour at work. Sometimes it just seemed like I didn't have a choice. I have deadlines, ya know?

I know, excuses.

For the most part, I've been able to avoid screens so I can focus on the food I'm eating. I've made substantial progress, which I view as success.

The Learnings

Besides realizing how mindless I eat, I learned some things about my body and food:

  • My body generally knows what it wants/needs, if I listen.
  • By honoring my body's desires, I feel good.
  • I'm not a cookie monster by default. Once I gave myself permission to indulge in whatever I want, I wanted the "bad stuff" less. I eat small bits of these foods more often instead of the seldom and remorseful shoving of cookies in my face.
  • Food doesn't have to be stressful. Really.
  • Food is really friggin' good. I'm more appreciative of the food I eat — for its flavor and for the nourishment it provides.

For those of you who joined the challenge, practice mindful eating or have practiced mindful eating in the past, I'd love to hear about your challenges and learnings as well!

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Pursue happy, America