30- Honor Thyself

…a second chance to count her blessings, heal wounded hearts, recapture lost love… and to live a life that will truly honor others — beginning with herself… Honor Thyself by Danielle Steel

Some of you may have noticed this is a day late, but I have a good reason (not an excuse).

Yesterday, I was in counseling sessions for my daughter or myself, or driving in between, from 1pm -7:30pm. When we finally got home, I tried to read about narcissism, but I was exhausted from the week. At 9:30 pm, I prided myself on honoring my health by going to bed early, and as I pulled my blanket up to my chin, I remembered that I hadn’t posted a blog for the day yet!

This isn’t the first time this has happened, but after focusing on Mindful Eating all week, I decided the blog would just have to wait.

Mindful Eating

When I was a dancer, I kept a food journal, but it was more to keep myself in line, and often it felt like punishing myself. Like a strict parent, I made sure I noted when I reached the “boundary” of how many calories I could have for the day. Each little food item I ingested was calculated and tabulated. Reaching 1200 calories was like hitting the alarm. I was done for the day and not allowed to eat until the next day, or else I would have to restrict the next day.

My life was fraught with anxiety, self-loathing, and a desire to be anything but what I was.

In an effort to break away from restrictive eating or overeating, which wreaks havoc on the emotions, I kept a different type of food journal this past week. It was a Food & Feelings Journal. In this journal, for each time you eat, you note the: Time; Emotions and Hunger Level (before); What You Ate; Emotions and Hunger Level (after). Additionally, feelings before and after exercise are noted.

The idea is to notice how food (or an imbalance of) can affect your feelings.

I noticed that one day I swam before I ate, so that by 10:30am, I was a 2 out of 10 on the Hunger Level. My blood sugar had plummeted, so when I ate, it just wasn’t enough. Within an hour, I ate cheese quesadillas to catch up. My emotions the rest of the day were anxious, whether before or after eating. The other days, I didn’t let my blood sugar get low, so the anxiety I might have felt was not pervasive throughout my day.

While Mindful Eating really encompasses many things, just being aware of emotions before and after eating was great at helping me recognize when I was actually satisfied vs full, and noticing when I was slipping from a 4 on the Hunger Level to a 3, where I was on the verge of feeling weak.

You may notice that shortly after an argument, you head for the fridge. Or perhaps you start craving something sweet, meaning you literally want to add back some sweetness to your life. This is normal and good to watch. The problem is when we constantly find ourselves over-eating, or eating only carbohydrates, or avoiding carbohydrates….basically any eating that is disordered.

The problem is when we eat to stuff down our emotions vs expressing our truth, or when we literally starve our emotions vs expressing our truth.

Try mindful eating for a day, or for a week. What do you notice? What habits do you feel you could break with mindfulness? (for a great way to break bad habits, check out ZenHabits.net or watch this video