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Live Happier Tip: Eating with Awareness

Brooke Castillo is a life coach who wrote a wonderful book called If I Am So Smart Why Can’t I Lose Weight.  Her weight loss theory is about paying attention to what we eat and why we eat it.  In the book, she gives a wonderful example about mindful eating.  Let’s say you have had a terrible day, people have yelled at you, you have made mistakes, and your stress level is through the roof.  You have just finished eating dinner, you are full but still stressed out.  You go to a friend’s house and all your friends are drinking wine and sitting around a table chatting. On the table are all your favorite foods.  According to Brooke–the fact that you had a bad day has nothing to do with the fact that all your favorite foods are on the table.  So in theory you should be able to walk into the room, sit down and share your bad day with your friends and because you are already full not eat all the food on the table.  The first time I read this example, I was blown away! What a unique idea!?!?  Food and emotions not linked?  Who would have thought it?

It is my contention that if we start becoming more aware of not just what we eat but why we eat we will Live Happier.  So today’s live happier tip is eating with awareness.  For most of us, food is linked to an emotion whether it be joy, stress, saddness, pain, frustration.  We often ‘reward’ ourselves with a big cookie or a bag of potato chips or for me Reese’ cups.  I know when I start craving a bag of Reese cups I am in trouble. When I don’t just stop at one or two.  When I pull the bag out of the cupboard, plop myself on the couch and start unwrapping them like a mad woman–something is off. I am mindlessly eating and that means somewhere there is an emotion that is going unchecked.
Living Happier is about having awareness around what we are eating and why.  When we mindlessly stuff ourselves to the point of beyond full, not only are we physically uncomfortable but we haven’t really listened to the internal clues our emotions are giving us.  The key is to pay attention as we are eating-Do you want a piece of chocolate cake?  Then eat one, enjoy every wonderful bite, don’t feel guilty or beat yourself up, enjoy it!  Frequently, we decide to eat a piece of chocolate cake and miss how wonderful it tastes because we are beating ourselves up for it.  To the same end if you get a piece of chocolate cake and it tastes bad then don’t eat it.  Sometimes because we FINALLY allow ourselves to eat a piece of chocolate cake we will eat it even though it isn’t delicious.
Unfortunately in our country we have a lot of negative messages around food–we need to separate food from emotions.  WAY easier said than done–but it all starts with awareness. So pay attention to what you are eating today–how does it taste? Are you enjoying it? Why are you eating it?, Are you already full?, Are you eating it as a reward or because you deserve it rather than because you really want to eat whatever is in front of you?  When we have awareness around eating we can start enjoying our food and our lives more.  We can deal with our emotions AND enjoy our food.

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