Learning to pause and listen to your body is one of the most profound ways to heal your relationship with food. Connecting with the present moment by being mindful and intuitively aware of your body is healing. We often spend a good bit of time lost in thought, mindlessly rushing from one aspect of the day to the next which often results in mindlessly eating.
When was the last time you found yourself looking in the cabinet and yet you weren’t really hungry or finishing a bag of chips and wondering how you got there in the first place? These things happen, and when you struggle with emotional and stress eating, it can become a mindless action used to avoid or suppress emotions and stress. When you engage in mindless eating to ease stress or numb out emotions it may lead to forming habit pattern of mindless eating.
This is where learning to Pause and check in with your body and mind can be such a powerful action to take along your path to making peace with food. When you Pause, you begin to engage with the present moment as it is right now. When you Pause, you are respecting your body, your needs and tuning into your intuition.
Within the space of the Pause, you create an opportunity to make a choice. This is where the power lies when you become mindfully engaged with the present moment. In the present moment you can check in with how stress or your emotions are impacting your mind, your body, your energy, your mood and your choices. When truly present, you can ask yourself how you want to feel and make choices based on this—rather than on avoidance and fear of feeling your feelings.
If you have been reading here for some time, you most likely already know the definition of mindfulness. However, I am going to repeat it, because it is so useful to have the reminder. Mindfulness is paying attention from moment to moment with nonjudgmental awareness. The non-judgment part is often one of the biggest challenges. Our minds judge by nature and create conditions that can feel pressured or uncomfortable.
When you engage with the Pause in the moment of a craving or when you catch yourself mindlessly eating or avoiding emotions and stress, you are essentially practicing mindfulness. When you use the moment of Pause and make a different choice based on how you want to feel, you are growing your mindfulness muscles (so to speak) to create more strength, awareness and comfort internally.
Now that you have allowed yourself to Pause, you can create and build self-awareness. Taking time to ask yourself, “What is happening right now?” “Why am I stressed?” “Why is this emotion I seem to want to avoid through food here in the first place?” “Is there another choice I can make in this moment?” These questions lead to self-awareness, growth and the opportunity to heal your relationship with food and with yourself.
When you allow yourself to be curious about your emotions and behaviors you create the perspective of non-judgment. You can be kind and compassionate to yourself, which will be far more tolerated internally than being mean and judgmental towards yourself! When you become overly judgmental towards yourself, you are more likely to emotionally eat, regress and feel shameful or like a failure. When you are kind to yourself you are more likely to grow, to push through the challenges and create the change you want.
Once you have examined the pause in a mindful manner, you have an opportunity to make a choice. What else can you do in this moment? Here you might opt to set a timer for 5 minutes and have a glass of water. You might choose to practice deep breathing or remove yourself from the kitchen, food item, cabinets, whatever is causing the mindless eating and cravings.
If you struggle with emotional eating, you may struggle to connect to your intuition. You may feel a sense of being disconnected from your body and your gut feelings. When you take the time to Pause, and examine the space within the pause, you will get back in touch and connect with your intuition and inner knowing.
When you Pause you can observe what is happening internally. Is there something your intuition is trying to communicate to you? Be curious and open to listening to your inner wisdom. Learn to become accepting of your emotions, internal experiences and inner guidance. Learn to listen and you might be surprise by what you “hear.”
Try this practice the next time you are experiencing a craving or you find that you are mindlessly eating/grazing/staring at the fridge: take time to Pause. As you Pause, look within and tune into your intuition. Ask yourself what you are truly needing and see if you can offer that to yourself within that very moment. Your body and mind are intimately interconnected and practicing this Pause will encourage and strengthen this internal connection.