The Power of Being Present for Disordered Eating
Just last night, I got home late from a long day of clients and a meeting, and I needed a break. Instead of taking a moment to collapse into child's pose and breathe, I found some dark chocolate in my freezer and started to mindlessly eat a few squares. It was instant comfort, and my brain knew that it would help me feel good in the moment, and experience the pleasure of chocolate. Since I was tired, my brain chose the easy option of eating to take a break rather than pulling out my journal or doing a little yoga.
A few moments later, I found myself coming back to the present moment.
Oh hey you, are you tasting & enjoying that delicious square of chocolate?
I quickly realized that if I slowed down, I could figure out how to best meet my needs and actually enjoy the chocolate. As I finished the square I had - mindfully, this time - I realized that it's always possible to commit back to the present moment.
I'm human - it's hard to be present all the time. The goal for me isn't to be present 100% of the time because I'm not Buddha and meditating all day long.
Yet, my intention is to bring my awareness back to the present moment... again and again. To keep committing and re-committing.
I used to struggle big time with all-or-nothing thinking. In the past, I would have eaten that chocolate, felt guilty about it, then threw my hands up and kept going because it's 'all ruined now.'
It's so easy to hop on the shame train when you eat your forbidden 'bad' foods or eat over your allotted calorie intake for the day.
With disordered eating, the pattern is often: Eat a 'bad' food, feel guilty, say 'screw it and continue to binge,' or swing to the side of restriction or exercising to compensate.
Yet, it doesn't mean it's your ONLY choice.
There's nothing wrong with eating emotionally - chocolate can be totally comforting. It's the label and judgment we put on the situation - and ourselves - that end up limiting us.
When we become aware of the normal habits and patterns, we can work on being present in the moment. By being intentional when thoughts or actions of disordered eating pop up, we can gradually work towards changing them.
In between the black-and-white thinking, try to find a 'gray' zone.
This is the place for self-discovery and exploration.
It's the place for self-acceptance - even the tiniest amount.
You can find it by coming back into the present moment.
By slowing down and taking deep breaths in and out, you can calm yourself down.
It brings you into the present moment where you can notice fully what you're feeling.
You can notice what part of you is feeling guilty and ashamed. In that moment, you can tap into more nurturing parts of yourself and bring gentleness into the situation.
This is exactly why I practice yoga and meditation. By practicing 'on the mat,' I can bring my yoga 'off the mat' into the rest of my life.
Yoga helps me connect to my body, so when I'm feeling anxious and spacey during my day, I can drop into a simple forward fold or child's pose to re-ground myself.
Breathing is an incredibly powerful tool to not only keep us alive but to root us in the present moment. When I need a moment during my day, I can simply focus on breathing in and out.
These mind-body-heart tools help guide me to the present moment, but your path may look different. Everyone has their own journey, so it's up to you to find ways that help bring you back to the present moment.
Maybe it's journaling, talking it out with a friend, walking or a different type of movement, or using a mantra like "Be Here Now."
Remember, this is always a practice. It's not a all-or-nothing test that you can fail. Make it a playful process, and be gentle with yourself.