Indulge Yourself. Mindfully. It’s OK. Really.

indulge“Even though [the more mindful] participants were more likely to give in to some desires without guilt, they were also able to discern whether their desire was in conflict with a larger goal they had….If giving into the desire threatened that goal, they had self-restraint. In other words, when it really mattered to them, they could keep their eye on the prize and not give into the lure of instant gratification.“*

Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally,” according to Jon Kabat-Zinn, Founder Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. The study here found that people in this sharpened state of awareness were more likely to indulge their desires, and without later guilt and remorse. It is as if, in this mindful state, just thinking about it “You can literally taste that bit of chocolate…whatever it is that you jones for.”* But wait, isn’t mindfulness supposed to put the executive brain in better control of setting goals and the discipline we need to reach those goals. Yes indeed, and that is exactly what the researchers found, i.e., that when it mattered participants who were mindful could exercise the self-restraint to forego the immediate pleasure for a greater good down the line.

What’s so great about this study is the permission it gives to actually enjoy ourselves, particular around this time of year when there is so much joy to be had. Well yes, for some more than others, there is sorrow in the mix too, but sorrow needn’t completely wipe out all joy unless we make that so. No matter what is going on in anyone’s life, somewhere in there is a simple joy to be had. Look around. Fill the senses. So much to see, hear, feel, smell, and taste…ah yes, taste, let’s talk about taste.

The premise of Mindful Emotional Eating is that All Eating is Emotional Eating because all eating feels good – even if it’s ‘good for us’ eating that makes us feel good about ourselves for eating good. And it’s not like we can ever do without eating altogether, let’s say like smoking. So, if we have to eat we may as well enjoy it in ways that do us more good than harm, which requires that we not feel bad about it because post eating guilt and shame tend to make people say ‘what the hell’ and binge eat even more. Reminds me of the gelato cone I had after piloting my 4-session program on Mindful Emotional Eating (MEE): Jumpstart to Effectiveness. Cone to mouth I stopped myself, turned to my friend and said, “Look, I have to concentrate on this gelato now because if I don’t it’ll be all gone before I can even know that I enjoyed it – and really otherwise what’s the point of eating it at all.” Another woman I know** who took the program reported more pleasure, less guilt, and less weight on the bones. To be clear, the goal of mindful emotional eating is food peace and pleasure, not weight loss per se because dieting is said to be a kind of deprivation that is the surest way to gain weight. But as we begin to eat more mindfully, we may experience greater satisfaction on less food so weight loss can naturally occur. That said…

Take control. Take back your joy. Use your sense(s). Actually look at your food before you put it in your mouth. Taste it before you swallow. Pay attention. Put your mind where your mouth is. Pause between one bite and another, so you even know you took a bite and enjoyed it. And, of course, allow yourself to stop, knowing that another eating event is coming soon – and that it will be good. Practice, practice, practice…and see what happens.

To work on Mindful Emotional Eating: Jumpstart to Effectiveness or something else, would love to hear from you:

Email:  Madelaine Weiss

* “Mindfulness Supports ‘Wise’ Indulgence: A recent study finds that mindfulness may not help us overcome all of our urges, just the ones that count.” Kelle Walsh. November 18, 2016m

**Examples and illustrations are fictional composites inspired by but not depicting nor referring to any actual specific person in my practice or life experience.

Copyright © 2017. Madelaine Claire Weiss. All rights reserved.



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