Mindfulness For Be◦you◦ty

Kate EmeryPsychotherapyLeave a Comment

One of the first things that set me on the right path for a healthier outlook on my body was dealing with the shame around food. Dr. Pavel Somov’s book Mindful Emotional Eating: Mindfulness Skills to Control Cravings, Eat in Moderation, and Optimize Coping provided me with a lot of guidance and is an informative read if you are struggling with emotional overeating.

Mindfulness is a way of being that allows the individual to observe, describe, act with a awareness, be non-judgmental, and be non-reactive. In terms of emotional eating, mindfulness means being aware of our emotional state and environment, being able to describe that awareness with words, being in control of how we act, not judging ourselves for our thoughts, and not being reactive to our feelings or thoughts. Mindfulness allows us to understand our emotions, feel our emotions more fully, and regain some control over our behavior.

Here are some highlights to get you started on your mindful journey.

  • Emotional eating is normal and it’s something we all do
    • Food feels good!
    • Feeling full feels good!
    • Being full helps us relax – which promotes good mental health!
  • Eating to cope is sometimes the only method of coping we have at our disposal to feel a sense of safety
    • Sometimes eating is better than the alternative – crying, self-harm, depression
  • Coping, by eating or another method, promotes ongoing health – if we take away a coping method without replacing it we are more likely to become unhealthy
    • What is the cost of not engaging in eating?
    • It’s ok and normal to eat to feel better
    • It’s the most accessible way to cope and deal with stress
  • Reinforcing the coping we already have through mindfulness is a tool for success
    • If we know why eating works – we can use this tool so it has a positve impact on our emotional wellbeing
    • If we know why we eat to cope – we have more knowledge about our emotions and understand that we are coping
    • If we understand our emotions – we can start to look at the factors that contribute to ongoing mental health concerns
  • Eating to cope is healthy – overeating is not. These are different things.
    • Eating to cope is about healing the body and giving it what it is asking for
    • Overeating is when we eat beyond this point of satisfaction
    • Overeating usually occurs because we aren’t mindful of our eating or how our bodies feel

Mindful emotional eating simply means we are aware that we are eating to cope, that we recognize we are in an emotional vulnerable state, and we are aware of how our bodies are feeling. If we know we are mindfully eating to cope – we are less likely to overeat and will therefore be coping in a healthier way.

Mindful emotional eating means:

    • We can make the choice to eat because we are feeling bad
      • This will help break the cycle of shame because we know we are eating for a healthy reason
    • We identify feelings which helps us be more mindful and compassionate to our emotional state
      • This breaks down shame because we understand eating to cope is not a weakness but something that is helpful
    • We pay more attention to what we eat to cope – instead of mindlessly grabbing whatever is closest
      • This helps prevent shame because we are less likely to overeat if we are able to pick foods that bring us the most satisfaction.
    • We can make the choice to stop eating when we feel better and avoid overeating
      • This helps break the cycle of shame because we are able to use eating as a tool. We are less likely to judge ourselves if we recognize we are making a decision to stop.

Over time eating can be reinforced with other coping strategies, and in some cases can be more fully replaced. If you want to learn more about mindful emotional eating and other strategies for health management, reach out to Kate Emery through Serenity Now.

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