Chocolate. Bread. Pasta. Coffee. Chocolate. Cookies. Cheese. Chocolate. Did I mention I like chocolate?
I, like many other women I know, crave chocolate just before and during my period. Sometimes I also crave bread, and occasionally, pasta. When I’m stressed I crave coffee or chocolate. What do you crave? Have you noticed a correlation between your cravings and your cycle? How about cravings and stress?
Taking note of when I crave things as well as what I’m craving has given me some really great insight into what is going on in my body as well as in my mind. This is the first step towards getting our cravings under control.
Besides doing some self-exploration and self-study, the next best tool we have for dealing with cravings is mindful eating.
What is Mindful Eating?
I’m sure you’ve heard this term by now if you’ve spent any time at all reading or poking about in the healthy living/foodie/spiritual/yoga communities.
Mindful eating is exactly what is sounds like, being mindful while we eat. We become fully present to what and how we are eating and enjoy it as the total sensory experience that it is. We turn off the TV, tablet, talk radio, or computer. We put down the phone, close the magazines or books, and simply eat. Preferably we eat with loved ones and enjoy light conversation that does not include work discussion or planning for the future, nothing stressful. But mostly all we do is see our food, smell our food, taste our food, chew and swallow with intention.
I find that not only does this allow for a more relaxing dining experience, but it also gives us the space to practice gratitude for our food and all the people that were involved getting it to us.
How to Practice Mindful Eating
Since I’m sharing this under the pretense of using it to help with cravings, I’m going to give very specific instructions on how to mindfully eat a treat.
It can be anything you like: a donut hole, a piece of chocolate, a scoop of ice cream, a slice of bread slathered in butter or jam, half a cookie, etc….
Start by choosing what kind of treat you’d like. Maybe it’s potato chips or something crunchy & salty instead of sweet. That’s a totally valid choice as well! Get whatever it is your body is asking for and let’s get started.
- Pick out your desired “treat”.
- Now this is the fun part. 😉 However much you normally eat of said treat, cut that in half (or less!). For example, if you normally have 3 scoops of ice cream, only do 1 generous scoop. If you normally have 1 whole chocolate bar, break it in half and put the other half away. If you normally eat a whole cookie, break that in half and put the other half away. You get the idea…I promise, if this is done correctly you will be satisfied with less.
- Turn off/silence ALL electronic devices, including the TV. Or, if you have others around who you’d rather not disturb, go elsewhere where it is quiet and you won’t be distracted. Take your treat with you if you go to another room!
- Sit down and get comfortable. You should be here 10 minutes or less.
- Once you are comfortable, pick up your treat and look at it. Just look. What does it look like? Textures? Colors?
- Now smell your treat. What does it smell like? Sweet, salty, sour? What kind of thoughts or feelings come up when you smell your treat? Just take a mental note.
- Look again at your treat and take 1 small bite. Small bite is key!
- Close your eyes and actually enjoy the treat. Move it around your mouth, chew slowly, try to pick up subtleties in the food that you may never have noticed.
- Once you have really enjoyed that first bite, then take another small bite, again eating it slowly, really enjoying the sensory and sensual experience of eating. I encourage you to keep your eyes closed while enjoying your treat.
- Once you are half way through your treat notice how you feel. Do you feel satisfied? Do you still even want to eat the rest?
- If you would like to finish your treat, continue eating slowly, mindfully, and taking small bites until you feel satisfied, not until the treat is gone.
Bonus Activities: Before the first bite, think about what went into your treat and how it got to you. Where did the ingredients grow? How were they taken from their raw form and processed to become what you are now holding in your hand? Express gratitude to the earth for growing the ingredients and the hands that picked them, processed them, and brought them to you. Express gratitude for yourself or your loved one that made buying this treat possible.
This part is just as important as doing the activity itself. If you struggle with over-eating, emotional eating, or have an unhealthy relationship with food, this is a great place to start. This activity should give you some insight into how your body, mind, and spirit reacts to “treats”.
If you feel like jotting down some notes, here are some sample questions that might be helpful…
- How did eating this treat make me feel mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually? Physically?
- Did I experience any judgmental self talk?
- Did any limiting beliefs come to the surface?
- Am I eating to punish myself?
- Was I able to enjoy a smaller treat when eating mindfully? If not, why do you think that is?
- Scrap those questions and free write!
This part is really about self study and self care. If you have a healthy relationship with food and find yourself eating too many sweets (like me!) during certain times in your cycle this activity can and will help you eat less, even if you don’t journal about it afterwards. Sometimes we just need a piece of chocolate and it’s as simple as that! The above questions are more for those of us who may need a little extra help smoothing out our relationship to food.
That’s all I have for you today! I hope you’ve enjoyed the post. Please feel free to leave questions or feedback here or on Instagram.
Happy Eating! ♥