Mindful Eating and The Process of Learning How to Feed Myself


Beth continues her cha-cha but then takes a giant leap forward.

mindful eating binge eating pinterestOne step forward, two steps back?  Or is it two steps forward and one step back? If I find the learning in a “step back”, then it’s actually a step forward.

Okay, no more “who’s on first” babble – here’s what I’m referring to.

I Thought I’d Get Back On Track After A Week Of Wild Abandon

I was in Aspen, Colorado last week visiting my daughter who lives there.  As was her thinking the last time I visited in November, it’s all celebration and vacation attitude because Mom is in town (with her credit card!) so we ate out for every meal, après skied like tourists and drank too much, often. A week of wild abandon.

As was my mantra last time I visited her, I would enjoy myself, stick to mindful choices and behavior as much as possible (brie, mango stilton and chardonnay?) and get back on track upon my return.

Except This Time It Was A Little Different: I Binged

I arrived back in Philly on a Sunday night after having eaten crappy food in three different airports over the course of 8 plus hours of traveling.  On Monday, I woke with a raging hunger in my belly.  Like I was starving to death!  I fed the beast all day and then, around 3 o’clock that afternoon, I couldn’t tame the craving any longer and I binged.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be a fly on the wall watching me shove as much food as possible down my throat as quickly as possible.  In the moment, my brain somehow thinks that if you can get it down in under a minute, it doesn’t count so I shovel with lightning speed.

Binge Eating After Mindful Eating? What The Hell Is Going On?

I haven’t binged at all when I’m practicing mindful eating.  In fact, if I eat balanced meals I am able to get through the day with virtually no food cravings at all and especially not the kind I described: the kind where you’re shaking and feel weak and you know the solution is a bag of chips, a half bag of pretzels and maybe a scoop of peanut butter – right from the jar, naturally.  It’s almost a feral feeling of needing carbs ASAP. Let’s face it; I have never binged on carrot sticks.

Is it the glycemic index thing? I don’t even know what that is but I know that if I eat foods full of processed carbs, I will feel the sensation of ill-health – the shakiness, the craving, the feeling of weakness, and I know I will binge.  That’s a fact.

So here’s my “step forward”, my learning in this experience.

Solving The Mindful Eating “Re-Entry” Problem

If I decide to stray from the path of mindful eating for whatever reason, I need to be aware that I may have this “re-entry” problem and need to be proactive.  On Tuesday morning, I started the day with a giant glass of water and immediately hit my VitaMix for a green smoothie and a half piece of whole grain bread with a schmear of almond butter.

Read This Related Article:
Bingeing: Use Mindful Eating

Unsure what I would be feeling as the day progressed, I cooked up some healthy quick go-to snack food in case the hungries hit.  I threw some Brussels sprouts into the oven (tossed with some olive oil, salt, pepper and flaked red pepper) and I steamed up some string beans (tossed cold with some olive oil and vinegar).  Maybe not your favorites but they are mine so I was at least prepared for the munchies to attack.

I had a healthy lunch and waited for the bewitching 3pm craving.  It didn’t happen!  I had some string beans in the afternoon but that hopeless feeling in the belly that makes me crawl into the carb closet and hide there until all the bags are empty simply didn’t happen.

So, as they say, knowledge  is power.

Honoring My Body With Awareness Of My Food And Eating

And that’s really what I learned at Green Mountain and what I’m trying to put into practice every day – to be aware of my relationship to food and eating, to honor my body within that relationship and to pay attention  and learn from the process.

While this week’s binge may look like a “step back”, in the end, it was a giant leap forward.

Marsha Hudnall, RD Green Mountain at Fox RunThoughts from Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, who has taught mindful eating at Green Mountain for almost 30 years:

It’s not clear why Beth’s body reacted so strongly to her vacation routine. But kudos to her for reacting rationally by feeding herself well instead of resorting to an extreme approach that is all too common for people to do these days. Such approaches often include restriction, which can set up even more eating and body struggles. Adding to Beth’s statement that “knowledge is power,” I’d just like to say that so is mindfulness.

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Beth Turchi

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