It’s been about six months since I started moving toward mindful eating. I thought I’d check in.
I have good days. I have challenging days. As someone who has always found solace, entertainment, distraction and satisfaction in food, changing my mindset is a process. I’m not doing it “perfectly,” but that’s the beauty of intuitive eating: perfection isn’t the goal. It’s about examining your habits and making choices based on nourishment and/or pleasure. Mindful eating is the opposite of mindless eating — my default state for years.
Having two babies in two years derailed my healthy-eating train. Well . . . you know, that’s not true. What I once considered “healthy eating” — the dramatic food restriction and weight loss I went through in 2013 — looks different to me seven years later.
It gave me control at a period when life felt less controllable. I was newly engaged and leaving home for the first time. My anxiety was not under control. My OCD wasn’t, either. Rather than seeking help for those conditions (or even really acknowledging them), I became obsessed with food.
I had the time and motivation to do it. With my wedding looming, I was preoccupied with the idea of being “thin” for the first time in my adult life. The weight loss program my husband and I followed did work: I lost nearly 40 pounds in six months. Single-digit sizes were suddenly in my closet.
That felt good then. It doesn’t feel good now.
At the risk of sounding totally cliché (whatever you’re good at, as my friend Sandy would say), becoming a mom certainly shifted my priorities. I do not have anything close to the energy or interest to live like that again: measuring every tablespoon, tracking a slice of cheese. Depriving myself of a piece of birthday cake, or berating myself when I “give in.”
Everything in moderation, they say. And I’ve been trying to stick to that. It’s true that the “moderation” can be the tricky part — and that’s where mindfulness comes in. I try to stop the train before it gets too far down the tracks.
In doing some personal reflection (and examining the wrappers in my minivan trash can), I realized driving is a “hot zone” for me. My long, leisurely commute — about an hour each way — has me totally on autopilot. When I’m bored? I eat. And not because I’m hungry.
My solution is a truly innovative, unexpected one: I don’t bring tons of snacks with me. I can’t eat what I don’t have. The one exception lately was a choice I made regarding a 12-pack of King’s Hawaiian rolls. I am powerless in their presence.
Spencer slid into the passenger seat on Sunday, spotting the trademark orange bag between us on the console. A whole bag of rolls. Well — a half-full bag of rolls.
“Road snack?” my husband asked.
Pretty much. I smiled sheepishly.
“I might have had a few. Maybe four . . . in a row.”
Spencer grinned. “Then why are five missing?”
Laughing, we tucked the bag out of reach.
In the week since, I’ve tried to make sure I have healthier options on hand — especially for my drive home. Or, even better, I try to wait a little longer for mealtimes. Recognizing boredom over hunger has been an adjustment, but I’m getting there.
These days, I’m not focused on weight loss; I’m more concerned about my mental health. I want to be content, and fixating on food and weight is a slippery slope for me. Plus, you know, I’m a mom. Demonstrating healthy habits and confidence to my kids is more impactful than words. How can I teach them to love themselves if I don’t love myself, too — just as I am?
I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.
Like me around the kids’ candy stash . . . turns out these things really can coexist.