Why mindfulness matters

I want to eat. I want to eat right now. I want to eat a packet of peanuts and a chocolate biscuit and some of that trail mix that someone so kindly left in our courtyard at work. I want to eat it all so that whatever it is I’m feeling right now will JUST BLOODY STOP.

~mindful monday~
~mindful monday~ by Gypsy Forest via Flickr

Those are the thoughts swirling around in my head as I careen through another fun-filled day at my job.

The group leader (a therapist) for my Making Peace With Food class last night said that it’s OK to eat when you’re not hungry sometimes. My mind absolutely would not accept that then and I’m not having it right now, either. For me, using food as a numbing agent is what got me here with 96 pounds to go – did you see the nifty My Fitness Pal countdown thingy on the sidebar??? – and no clue what to do when I feel uncomfortable. I understand that she’s trying to stop us from beating ourselves up for less-than-perfect behavior, but if I let myself think that it’s OK to eat that packet of peanuts because I’m frustrated with someone at work then where does it stop? The next time Mick sits fiddling with the computer as the minutes tick by and we’re already late for an appointment, is it OK for me to grab a piece of cheese so that I won’t kill him?

I don’t know about everyone else, but that is a very slippery slope for me and it’s just not something I can be OK with.

What I’m practicing instead is sitting with the discomfort and letting myself really be here and feel it. No disappearing inside my mind. No distracting myself – not with food nor with anything else. I’m angry and, while that’s always been a “bad” feeling for me, it won’t kill me.

To help me through this, I’m anchoring myself in the reality of the situation with all of my senses so that I don’t drift away and blow things up out of proportion. I slipped out of my heels so that I could put my bare feet on the carpet and feel the squishiness under my toes. I’m listening to two colleagues discuss a new product feature and how customers should interact with it. The cold water in my cup feels delicious as it washes through my mouth and I love the way it feels to type on this keyboard because it’s got old-fashioned proper keys instead of the little, tiny ones on most modern Mac keyboards.

For me, being fully present and experiencing the discomfort is the best way for me to learn that food is not the answer for everything. If you have used food inappropriately in the past, do you have new habits for dealing with stress that you’ve picked up on your healthy living journey? I’d love any thoughts and suggestions you might have to contribute.

In the meantime, I must go and have a nice, calm chat with a fellow employee so that I can give him the gift of constructive feedback.

  • http://www.shaunareid.com

    Amazing stuff Denise. Love the “feet on the carpet” thing… so grounding and a great way to get the mind and body hooked up again.

    • http://lottalatte.com

      I’m so glad you understood that bit, Shauna – I was so worried as I was typing that people would think it odd that I was barefooted at work. I’ve got a private office with a door and I would never go barefoot out into the office at large, but I just knew I needed that tangible reminder of the “here and now” to break the crazy thoughts in my head.

      Of course, the cravings didn’t totally stop until I left the office at the end of the day but I made it through the day without eating my way out of my feelings, so I’m counting that as a victory!

  • http://gingerzingi.wordpress.com

    “is it OK for me to grab a piece of cheese so that I won’t kill him?” LOL! my husband’s life has probably been saved more than once by a piece of cheese.

    I’ve found that unresolved anger is the biggest factor behind any emotional eating I do!

    • http://www.lottalatte.com

      Totally agree that unexpressed (by me) anger is the most common reason for me to eat when I’m not hungry. Why don’t I just tell someone that I’m angry instead of eating it away? That would probably be good to figure out and I think I’ll get closer if I just don’t eat it away.