One of my favorite routines after getting out of bed in the morning involves making a steaming hot cup of coffee and taking a moment before taking my first sip to pause, gaze out my kitchen window, and set an intention for my day ahead. This ritual started a couple of years ago as I began to realize how busy the days can be and how easy it is to fill the waking hours to the brim without taking the time to slow down and check in. I found myself talking with clients and friends about the importance of mindfulness, self inquiry, and pausing, but realized that I too needed to hear that message and bring focused attention to sloooowwwwwwwwwingggg down.
Sometimes setting an intention to set an intention is the hardest part
At first, I had to remind myself to take that moment or would chide myself with self-criticism if I'd rushed around after waking up too late/hitting snooze and had forgotten about the intention to set an intention altogether. Just like any type of habit change, however, with enough practice and repetition, the new ritual stuck and now it's the part of my morning I look forward to most. This “mindfulness moment” allows me the opportunity to assess how I'm feeling, what I'm grateful for, what I'm worried about, and what I'd like to practice for the day ahead. Solidifying this habit in the morning has also helped to make it much more natural to return to this practice throughout the day.
Even the fullest days can hold mindful moments
Maybe it's taking a moment to check in while waiting in line at the grocery store, sitting down to eat lunch, or washing dishes at the end of a long day – wherever it may be, the realization that there IS time to take time throughout a busy day has been a huge change for me. We all have the ability to slow down and check in with ourselves, no matter how full our time may seem.
This past Christmas, I received the perfect gift to accompany this morning ritual - “Journey to the Heart” by Melody Beattie. This book has a daily reading for each day of the year and always seems to deliver just the message I need to hear. There was a reading a few weeks ago that gave me pause for thought and it felt important to share. It's entitled “Look at What's Right” - a reflection about how we can spend so much time looking for flaws in ourselves, even in the name of self improvement,”that we often forget to stop and take stock of what is going well or what we value within ourselves. Here's the reading:
“Take time to notice what's right in ourselves, in others, and in the world around us. We may become so concerned with correcting ourselves we become habituated to seeing what's wrong. Not just seeing it – constantly looking for it. The question itself – What's wrong? – is enough to keep us on edge.
"There are times to take stock, do an inventory. Times to learn and grow. But spirituality and joy do not stem from trudging around in the muck of what's wrong with others, ourselves, and life. We do not have to seek out mistakes and errors, poking and picking at ourselves to continue our growth. Poking and picking hurts. Our lessons will be revealed to us, and they will present themselves naturally. Growth will occur.
"Give yourself a break. Ask yourself what's right, what's good, what's true, what's beautiful. Sometimes the lesson isn't in discovering what's wrong. Sometimes the lesson is discovering that the world is all right – and so are you.”
So, with that, I'd challenge all of you to practice taking a pause today (and maybe eventually every day) to acknowledge what's right. Give yourself the
gift of self compassion, give yourself some space from that internal critic, and call out a strength you possess – even if it seems tiny or insignificant.
With practice and persistence, everything gets easier.
Marci RD Nutrition is offering a 5-week meal support series with
eating disorder and Intuitive Eating expert Sarah Patten. Details below!
Who should consider participating?
Anyone actively working on their eating disorder recovery as well as those focused on improving their relationship with food, re-learning their body's hunger and fullness cues, and developing self-trust around consuming challenging or “forbidden” foods. Participants must be appropriate for an outpatient level of care and must be working with an individual therapist and dietitian.
What we offer:
A five-week meal support series focused on consuming adequate and challenging meals in a supportive group environment.
Our first group will consist of introductions, an orientation to the keys of effective exposures, as well as personalized goal setting. YOU decide how to best utilize exposures in the groups to follow. The remaining four weeks will consist of mindfulness based eating exercises, dining together as a group, and post-meal processing.
When will the group be held?
Tuesday evenings from 7-8:15pm; 1/24, 1/31, 2/7, 2/21 and 2/28 (we will skip Tuesday, 2/14)
Where we will meet:
Marci RD Nutrition Counseling Office
22 Hilliard St., Cambridge, MA 02138
1st floor, door on the right
Why join our group?
Exposure to challenging meals in a supportive environment fosters greater self-trust while decreasing fear and anxiety over time. Food avoidance is a big risk factor for relapse and can hold one back from making peace with food once and for all. This group will help you to become more confident in your ability to feed yourself in an adequate, varied, and enjoyable way.
Important registration information:
Group size is limited to 6 participants. Contact Sarah at Sarah@MarciRD.com to reserve your spot. Your spot will be officially reserved once payment is received in full. Registering for the full series is required. We will not accept partial registration.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful yet stressful holiday for a lot of people. The entire day is centered around food. And if food is a source of stress and anxiety
for you, that's a lot of pressure! I won't be providing you with a list of food do's and don'ts at your Thanksgiving meal. So if that's what you were
hoping for, I do apologize. But I will provide you with some ideas to contemplate. If you are anxious about Thanksgiving, I'd encourage you to take
a pen and paper and journal about some of the questions below.
1. What gives Thanksgiving value and meaning for you?
2. What contributes to or detracts from the "specialness" of the holiday?
3. When it comes to food, what are you worried about specifically? Really give this some thought. What concerns you?
4. How would you like THIS Thanksgiving to be different from past Thanksgivings?
5. How would you like it to be the same?
6. List 3 specific factors that will make it hard for you to have a different experience?
7. How can you plan for those challenges? Can you do it on your own? Do you need support? Do you need a new/creative strategy?
8. What thoughts and beliefs do you have about eating on Thanksgiving? Where do those thoughts and beliefs come from? Are they really yours? Really listen to those thoughts. Do you believe them? How do those thoughts affect your feelings and actions?
9. When it comes to eating, food, and your body- what are you truly grateful for? What makes you feel good?
Thanksgiving, just like all eating experiences is highly individual. While eating is the central event in most homes on Thanksgiving, I hope your holiday is also filled with positive relationships, peace, and gratitude.
What tips have helped you have a positive food experience on Thanksgiving?
Note: This post was originally published November 20th, 2012
How often have you heard someone say “Oh, that’s only 250 calories, it’s not so bad.” I’ve heard it A LOT and it really gets on my nerves. What if a calorie total wasn’t good or bad? What if we could strip all the morality out of how many calories we consume? Unfortunately, calorie talk is NOT going away any time soon. It’s posted on menus, plastered on magazine covers, and someone you know is probably counting them. But it’s not a total bummer if you can start to practice looking at them more objectively and with less judgment. I’ll show you.
Example #1- Lean Cuisine Meal = 310 calories*
Old way of thinking: 310 calories for lunch isn’t so “bad.”
New way of thinking: Wow, I notice that when I eat a 310 calorie Lean Cuisine for lunch I’m not very satisfied, I feel hungry again an hour later, and I’m still thinking about food quite a bit. If I want to stay full for longer than an hour, I either need more food or I should choose something different.
Example #2- Turkey and Avocado Sandwich from Au Bon Pain =650 calories
Old way of thinking: Oh, I was really “bad” at lunch today. That sandwich had over 600 calories. According to Shape magazine, I should eat less than 400 calories at lunch. I’m so disgusting. I have no self-control. Why couldn’t I eat just half?
New way of thinking: The sandwich tasted delicious. The balance of carbohydrate, fats, and proteins left me feeling satisfied. I feel a lot fuller than after I eat a Lean Cuisine. Plus I noticed that I have more energy and didn’t think about eating again for a few hours. If I need something to tie me over for a few hours, this is a great choice.
See the difference? We have to get out of our heads and into our bodies. How do certain choices make you feel? Energized or sluggish. Satisfied or left wanting more. Happy tummy or upset tummy. If we can let go of the idea o food being good or bad and tune in to the physical experience of eating it, we’ll be headed in the right direction!
Have any personal experiences? Please share!
*Disclaimer: I totally made those calorie numbers up.
Originally published October 2013.
I don’t often use a lot of self-disclosure on my blog. In fact, the last time I shared something personal was July 2011 when I talked about my body image. But after finishing my dinner tonight I had a little conversation with myself that I wanted to share.
I love chocolate…like, a lot. I especially love German chocolate. Ok, to be more specific I LOVE Milka Schoko and Keks and I love the Butter Biscuit by Rittersport. As luck would have it, Trader Joe’s sells those Rittersport bars at a very reasonable price. I typically have at least one back up bar in my treat bowl at home. (Yes, another reveal, I have a treat bowl at home.)
So I came home tonight after a very full day at work. In fact, it was an unusually full day. I sat down to a meal that was just what I needed on a cold, rainy evening. I was tired and hungry and couldn’t wait to eat. After I finished my meal I started to think about my Butter Biscuit waiting for me in the treat bowl. I got all excited knowing that it was just what I wanted to finish my meal. I broke off a line of chocolate and noticed that I was eating it with tremendous delight. The chocolate was making me quite happy, quite warm and fuzzy, and I noticed the stress of my day begin to dissipate.
And that’s when I started to think about the difference between eating WITH emotion and emotional eating. I talk about emotional eating most days with my clients and I can assure you that there is a difference! Emotional eating has a few particular qualities:
- It is used to cover up, diminish, numb or avoid challenging emotions.
- It happens with great speed and little pleasure. It goes in the mouth and down the hatch before you can savor a single bite.
- It leaves you feeling physically unwell after you have eaten.
- It creates disconnection with yourself.
- It is often followed by guilt, remorse, and shame.
Now what I described above is light years away from eating WITH emotion! Eating WITH emotion includes getting super excited to eat a meal you love or try a new restaurant you’ve heard friends raving about. Eating WITH emotion is eating things that are super yummy and satisfying. Eating WITH emotion leaves you feeling physically satisfied and content and emotionally balanced or even happy!
Not every snack is going to be the zen experience I described earlier. Not every meal will send you to Cloud 9. BUT, I truly believe that experiences of eating WITH emotion are vital to our health and well-being.
So when was the last time you ate WITH emotion? What did you eat? And if you haven’t lately, what’s stopping you? Hop to it, your body will thank you. J