The question became, if I know what to eat, then why don’t I eat it?
I know that a whole food plant based diet is the way to go for optimal health, and a healthy weight. So, why does cheese, sugar, fried crap, snacks, and chocolate continue to find it’s way into my mouth? How do I change this behavior?
That’s when it hit me, I have to change my behavior.
The answer to weight loss does not come entirely from knowing what foods to eat. You can have all of the knowledge in the world, but it doesn’t do you any good if you don’t act on it. To get to the root of the eating, the cause of the eating must be identified.
The easy answer why I am eating food that I know isn’t healthy is emotional eating. And to some extent that is true. But, what drives both the behavior and the emotions that drive the desire to eat? Thoughts. My body is not failing me. It is my mind that is out of control.
When I stop to look at what was happening, I can identify a few processes that all lead back to a lack of mindfulness and awareness. My thoughts are in turmoil, and as a result I am behaving in a way that leads to poor health. My weight is an external barometer of my internal state of being.
One issue is that thoughts about food run away with me. I begin to fantasize about that something that I want to eat. I can’t pull my focus and attention from the obsessive thoughts about what I might be able to have for dinner. And, I can assure you, I am not fantasizing about brown rice, beans, and broccoli. Due to these runaway thoughts, there are times that I have made a decision to eat something before I am even aware of it.
The second issue is that I am moving too quickly and I am not even aware of what I am doing. I eat way too fast, I make decisions way too fast, and I don’t ever pause to question what I am doing. I am completely disconnected from my body and how I feel. Am I eating because I am hungry? Or am I eating because of some emotion or feeling? More often than not, it is the later, but I haven’t stopped long enough to even notice it. Then, the food goes into my mouth and reinforces the pattern.
That brings me to the third issue which are the ingrained patterns. I have unbelievably strong cravings that seem to become more monstrous and grotesque every time I give into them. Much like an addict, it seems I need more and more of whatever food I am after to feel even a bit satisfied. My taste buds are overstimulated. My dopamine receptors are down regulated. My pattern of behavior – now entrenched in my brain – is to eat the food.
I recognize that the way to change all of this has to come from training my mind. I have always sensed that meditation could help, and so I turned back to my meditation practice. But, that isn’t enough. I need a whole program to change. They say that when you are ready, a teacher will appear, and that is what has happened for me.
Between the classes I am taking in school on how the brain affects behavior, and a new mediation teacher, I have found a path forward to quiet my mind and change my behavior so that I can eat healthfully – and mindfully. The biggest key that I have found is the idea that, as part of my mediation and spiritual practice, I must learn how to train my senses.
Bam! This is the single most revolutionary concept I have ever heard of.