As you may know from my previous posts about meditation, it’s a practice that’s fairly recent to me but that I fell in love with quickly. What I didn’t realize was how much its principles would intersect with the teachings of intuitive and mindful eating.
Before I knew much about meditation, I assumed it was sitting crossed legged trying to think of nothing. And while that’s kind of true it’s also not really the point. The point of meditation isn’t to think of nothing but instead, to be present and aware in the moment. The one thing that’s always in the moment is your breath. So by following and paying attention to your breath, you are being present in your body.
However, nobody except perhaps the Dalai Lama, can meditate for any length of time and stay fully present. Our mind’s job is to think so of course, we are going to have thoughts constantly creep up. When thoughts occur you don’t need to try and catch them or squash them away, instead notice that they are occurring, gently push them away and return to your breath and being present.
As your meditation practice deepens the goal is to become quicker at recognizing when thoughts creep up and get sucked into daydreams less often. By working on this skill you will not only become more aware of your thoughts during meditation but also during your daily life. There is a constant dialogue going on in our head that we very rarely recognize. This dialogue takes us away from the present moment and is often filled with thoughts of negative self-doubt.
So how does this practice relate to intuitive eating? Well, the first principle of Intuitive Eating is reject the diet mentality. But try and try as you will, the diet mentality will creep back into your life. The fact is, it’s everywhere in our society and we’re faced with it on a constant basis. But just like mindfulness and meditation, it’s a practice to learn when you’re getting caught in the diet mentality and instead of letting it spiral out of control and finding yourself back to restricting foods, feeling bad about your body, or buying low carb noodles, you can recognize that it’s diet culture. You can note the feeling, thought or emotion and just let it pass by you like a thought during meditation.
So for example, you might scroll through your Instagram feeds and see a picture of someone with a body you wish you could have. Immediately, you look down at yourself and think, I’ll never look like that. I’m gross. I should exercise more or cut out something in my diet to look like that. But before you go down that path, recognize the diet mentality and let the thought go. Go back to the teachings that you know. That diet culture is a scam. That we aren’t all meant to be one size fits all. That diets don’t work and that you aren’t going to buy into that propaganda again.
The more you practice this skill the easier it will become, just like meditation. There is no shame in being sucked into diet culture, just like there is no shame or judgment when thoughts creep in during meditation. It’s going to happen, over and over again. But you’re in control of what you choose to do with it. You can get aggravated during meditation and frustrated or you can simply let the thoughts go. You can get sucked into the diet mentality and begin restricting or you can let that thought pass and not allow yourself to go down a road that you already know makes you unhappy.