Sunday, May 20, 2012

Being Mindful

It is so easy to rush through the day from one task to the next and never really stop and pay attention to the moment. When life gets hectic, I have to make a real, constant effort to pay attention to each task and to be aware of what’s going on.

Being present and mindful is especially important when it comes to food for me as I am an emotional eater. I am certainly a lot more mindful these days then several years ago, but when things get stressful, uncomfortable, overwhelming, and scary, I tend to “forget” about what I am putting into my mouth. I don’t truly look at the food; I don’t really taste the food; and I therefore easily eat a lot more food than I need. I may also “forget” to eat mainly plants.

Planning meals and scheduling time to eat throughout the day helps me a lot to pay more attention to what I am eating. But there are still times when I don’t pay as much attention as I should.

A few weeks ago, I downloaded a  new app for my phone to keep track of the food I eat. Since I don’t count calories or points, and really never have, I like that the app is very simple; I simply input whenever I eat something. Writing down everything I eat certainly makes me more aware. There are many apps out there that do very similar things. I chose My Diet Journal because it’s easy to use and free. I don’t really like the word “diet” in the title, and I am looking at the “diet” part as “the things I eat in a day.”

My Diet Journal
To be completely honest, I started inputting everything I ate about four weeks ago, but after a few days, in the midst of life being unusually hectic, I convinced myself that it took too much time. When I’m really honest with myself, I just didn’t make it enough of a priority. How long does it really take to input a meal into a simple smart phone app? About a minute or two. Did I truly not have an extra minute? I think we all know the answer to this question. I think it was just easier at the time not to acknowledge what I was putting into my mouth (both when it comes to quantity and quality).

So a few days ago, I started again. No more excuses.

How is it going? Well. I like keeping track of what I am eating, and it certainly makes me think if I really need that handful of chips or those pieces of chocolate after lunch (not that there is anything wrong with either, but often it’s just not necessary). Sometimes I also write down how I am feeling. This is especially helpful when I “forget” to write something down (like the late night bowl of ice cream that I added the next morning. It certainly wasn’t necessary, but I wanted something to calm my nerves. I think a cup of herbal tea would have worked much better…). In addition to food, I am also keeping track of my vitamins, which I have been taking very inconsistently.

So for the time being, I will continue to write down what I eat to check in with myself and to help me to become as mindful as I would like to be again.Questions: Do you keep track of what you eat? If so, how? How mindful are you throughout the day? How mindful are you when you eat?
Be well,
Andrea

50 comments:

  1. I think practicing mindfulness, in general, is such a great tool!

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  2. I did track my food for about two months in March and April but I stopped and try to eat mindful since then. I stopped because I bought and read a Dutch book, freely translated "the secret of skinny/healthy people". The main lesson I learned from it was to practice: I can have it but I don't want it. It's all about making choices throughout the day and I'm getting better at it every day. This morning I turned down a birthday cake because I didn't want it and I have a much better cake ordered for my own birthday tomorrow: that piece I do want :)

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    1. Yes, it is all about making conscious choices throughout the day. I think sometimes we have "automatic responses" for so many situations, and we have to make them "non-automatic."

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  3. I ADORE THIS.
    Im a mindful eater and exerciser and try daily to be a mindful LIVER.

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    1. You ARE a mindful LIVER, and I love your frequent reminders of it!!!

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  4. (squints. did my comment work?! :((

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    1. Yes, but I had to approve it! :)

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  5. I get my clients connected with MyFitness Pal, and most of them swear by it. It really helps them be more mindful. For me, I just can't go back to recording food quite yet. After my bout with anorexia, I'm still nervous to record my food. I know, one day, I will though. I entered one day of food into MyFitness Pal just so I could learn how to use it, and even just doing that helped me see that my night time eating is way out of control (Although better than it used to be!).

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    1. I think it's so important to do what's right for you. And I think night time eating is a very common problem...

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  6. Been practicing mindfulness since December, in all areas of my life, and...I should have started years ago. It's been nice looping the kids in as well. What a gift. :0)

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    1. I'm glad it's going so well for you!

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  7. Great post Andrea! I have the same problem (why did I just eat 6 handfuls of goldfish, which I don't even really like that much?). I tend to track what I've eaten mentally but it's not the best technique. I'm generally pretty good until about 3pm but after that I get snacky. Also, I unfortunately "learned" when my oldest was a baby to just rush through meals and I have not been able to unlearn that (15 years later). I might give that app a try--any tool that increases mindfulness can only help!

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    1. Yes, babies & toddlers really "teach" you to rush through meals. And it is hard to unlearn...

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  8. I've never heard of that app but think I would find it useful. I like the idea of just tracking food but not calories. You know the word diet never bothers me. I always just think of it, like you do, as "what a creature eats".

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    1. It's so interesting what different people think when they hear the word "diet."

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  9. That was actually what made my last week a success, was being mindful. Because I cook so much, I cook for my SIL, I realized there were WAY too many licks and tastes - and too many trips back to my cheese drawer throughout the day.

    Not that I don't have cheese, but I don't go too crazy - I mean, what is life without delicious cheese?! :D

    I use fatsecret.com because I can input recipes there for nutritional information - its on my smart phone too. :D Happy Monday Andrea!

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    1. Yes, licks & tastes add up so quickly! And, I agree, cheese is an important part of life! :)

      Have a great week!

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  10. I've been thinking of adding this to my plan for a couple of weeks now ever since I finally caved and joined the iClone community ;). Seeing as I have been all over the map in my eating and weight loss and exercise, I would like to have a record of what I was doing when I was consistently losing. I've kind of forgotten!

    And you are totally right about thinking twice about a handful of chips if you have to write it down.

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    1. Yes, writing things down is quite powerful...

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  11. I've been loosely tracking what I eat for the past 9 weeks as part of my birthing class homework. It's interesting to be tracking food for a completely different purpose than I have in the past--actual nutrition (and protein grams) rather than calories.

    After the baby is born, I know I'll want to do some form of tracking, both for nutrition reasons and calorie ones, but I'm not sure how far I want to take it yet. This app seems like it might be a good balance. I'll check into it. Thanks :)

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    1. Nutrition and protein grams are a great reason to track! :)

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  12. I put a little notebook in the kitchen and write down everything i eat/drink. On the days that i don't do it, i usually eat the same but don't get enough water. So, I'm going to start again. Either way i am always very mindful of what i eat. Weather it's a carb or protein. Weather it's fuel for my body or junk. If I'm going to eat junk it will have to be amazing, and then i still make sure i get enough protein and fiber for my day either way. Man I'm sounding like Dr. Seuss again.

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  13. I am always toying with this idea and I am on the hunt for the "perfect" tool to monitor and record my intake. I will definitely be checking out this app!

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    1. Not sure the app is "perfect," but I like that it is simple. :)

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  14. Andrea! Such a lovely reminder. There is often SO MUCH going on that we forget to live in the present moment. To be here. Thanks for the reminder - I needed it more than I'd like to admit :)

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    1. Thanks, Holly! I think we all need the reminder... :)

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  15. I started using My Fitness Pal which is also a free on line computer, iPhone or iPad app. It has made such a difference in my awareness of how much and when I eat. It does take a little more time in the beginning to establish your own food data base. But once you get past that hurdle it is so easy and takes hardly anytime at all. Plus I like being able to track the nutritional information not just the calories I take in.

    I too am an emotional eater and this process of tracking my food helps me be more aware of when I am eating outside of hunger.

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    1. I have heard good things about My Fitness Pal, but I think I'm just a bit too lazy to set it all up right now... :)

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  16. I agree that keeping track of what you eat makes you much more mindful. I have really been trying to focus on this lately as well. It isn't easy.
    Great job!

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  17. sometimes i keep a mental note in order to balance out things during the day (as in, wow, i haven't eaten anything green...all...day). but overall, i don't count calories or anything like that.

    it's great that you found something that works for you, though. :)

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    1. I've been keeping mentally track of what I'm eating for a long time, but I kept "forgetting" about too many things... :)

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  18. Writing down my food in a journal helps me be mindful of what I am eating.

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  19. I echo what Jenn said about the word "diet". It's gotten uh a bad rap, but in reality, I think of it as "a pattern of eating" as opposed to restricted eating. I don't record my food intake, but agree it can be a useful tool for booming more aware of eating patterns/food intake. Overall, I think I'm a pretty mindful eater, but I know I can be more mindful of my life in general :-)

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    1. I think we can always work on being more mindful in life! :)

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  20. Your posts have been amazing lately (always but so through provoking, keep them coming). I love this. I love when you call yourself on having enough time and explaining what mindful eating means. i don't track my food in a journal but I do plan and recap my food mentally, is that a cop out?

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    1. Thank you! I think it's great if you recap your food mentally. I used to do this, and it worked great for a long time. I see the writing down as a tool to becoming more mindful again.

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  21. I don't keep track of what I eat, because I have so little time to so so. It would be nice to have some structure and I am sure a diary would help.

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    1. Yes, little ones certainly leave you with very little time for your own meals...

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  22. I don't keep track of what I eat, but I do try to be more mindful about what I'm putting into my mouth at the moment. I'd rather handle my diet in a meal by meal way, because that makes me feel freer and happier!

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    1. Dealing with your meals meal to meal sounds good to me! :)

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  23. I know i already had my thought on this post, bit i was just thinking...This weekend is the first time in a long time that i've ate mindlessly. I feel rotten. I thought at first if i rest and up my calorie intake i would feel better, but without a plan i fall apart very quickly. So from now on a plan of action and a follow thru. That I'm good at, but I'm also good at eating an entire box of coconuties. Blegh. So, I'm making my plan of action for tomorrow and sticking to it. Having friends stay for the weekend with games and drinks doesn't help.

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    1. It really is about figuring out what works for us... Personally, I do fine with a less structured plan when life isn't stressful. But when life gets busy and stressful or when I am surrounded by an unusual amount of food (like at a party or other "special occasion"), I really need to have a plan to stay on track.

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  24. Really great post, Andrea! It made me think. You're my Jiminy Cricket. I haven't been food journaling well lately. The truth is that it takes minutes per day. And those minutes really do make a difference. So this is a little kick towards my butt to journal today.

    :-) Marion

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    1. Hope you are keeping up the journaling... :) We all need a reminder from time to time... :)

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  25. Hope you had a great Memorial Day Andrea!

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