If You Give a Moose A Muffin…

Elk in the woods
There is a series of children’s books written by Laura Joffe Numeroff  and beautifully illustrated by Felicia Bond detailing the outrageous shenanigans that follow when a child takes a seemingly innocent first step like giving a moose a muffin, a dog a donut, a cat a cupcake, a pig a pancake, or giving the mouse who started the whole thing a cookie.
When I stepped into this experiment called getting my groove back a year ago, I had no idea I would be stepping into a similar situation as the unsuspecting character who gave the moose, the dog, the cat, the pig, and, of course, the mouse what they wanted.
As we’ve all learned even if we haven’t read these fabulous fables, one thing leads to another and another ad infinitum.  Some of these things are hilarious, some are mischievous, some are expensive, some are silly, some are unfortunate, and some are surprising.
And surprise, it turns out, is one of the things that most of us try to avoid.  But according to the authors of the fascinating book called Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected, it’s one of the things we should embrace in order to spark the best kind of change in our lives.
The thing about my journey or any journey is that we don’t ever really know what we’re in for, even if we think we do.  The brilliance of our ignorance or beginner’s mind is absolutely essential if we are to be open to what lies ahead.
Preconceived notions or assumptions of how long it is going to take, how much it is going to cost, how easy or difficult it might be are usually based on our past experience or that of someone else.
Even though that experience may serve as a helpful guide, it will continually pull us out of the here and now if we are not open to the element of surprise and the many gifts of an unpredictable present.
For example, at the end of my How to Get Your Groove Back class I wanted to give participants the opportunity to physically experience what we had been discussing and understand what it felt like to change eating habits, improve energy levels, curb cravings, reduce hormonal fluctuations, etc.
So five of us embarked on a 21-Day Purification with the assistance of a functional medicine doctor and me, their newly certified Eating Psychology Coach.
Having done something similar six months ago, I thought I knew what we were getting into.  Suffice it to say, I did not.  Surprise!  The first day my predominant thought was, “What was I thinking?”  I’m sure the others were wondering the same.
But as the days progressed and we figured out what we could eat, found our comfort foods and figured out how to prepare them, and started losing weight and noticing a difference in our energy levels, skin, moods, and stress levels, we were amazed at how quickly we were adapting to the new world order.
In a very short time, we were able to make significant shifts in our outlook and health that previously none of us thought would be sustainable. Ironically, as much as we looked forward to Day 22, that’s when the real work started.
Like the unlikely actions that follow feeding a moose a muffin, I’ve become this version of myself I’d only imagined I could be.  I’m actually excited about kitchen knives and cutting boards, joining a co-op, and spending  the weekend tackling the clutter around every corner (while listening to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo).
As Einstein said, No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” It wasn’t that I was unhappy before.  I just knew if I wanted to get to my own personal Promised Land, I was going to have to take a different route if I intended to get there this lifetime.
So I did what we all need to do from time to time.  I did what graduates and retirees and entrepreneurs the world over are urged to do.  Give a moose a muffin.  And let the adventures begin!
Share if you dare in the comments below. What grand adventures await you?

How To Get Your Groove Back

Beautiful woman enjoying life

Long before Fifty Shades of Grey there was Stella.  And Stella had issues.
Despite her highly successful career, Stella had lost her mojo and was determined to get it back.
She was of a certain age and just not feeling as groovy as she once did.  So what did Stella do?
She did what any woman cast in a starring role opposite Taye Diggs would do.  She went to Jamaica and had a wild, passionate affair with this hunk of burning love.  She definitely brought her sexy back.
But that was Stella, played by the beautiful Angela Bassett, and her story was fictional.
Even if you could afford to whisk yourself away to a romantic locale and discover a smoking hot lover (surprisingly this may be the same person who snores beside you at home), often this kind of reboot(y) is a temporary fix.
What I’m looking for is the real deal.  If I’m feeling funky, frazzled, and fatigued, the farthest thing from my mind is suiting up in sexy lingerie and stilettos. (If you’ve seen my shoe collection, you know I’m taking creative license here.)
What I really want is for the brain fog to dissipate, the chaos to transform into clarity, and the fatigue to turn into sustainable energy.  While a powerful love connection can do that, so can understanding and practicing the basics of mind-body nutrition,  the phases of nourishment, and the soul lessons you came here to learn.
Yes, you read that right.  I went from sex to science to spirituality in six sentences.  Because you and I are whole beings and the only way to get our groove back is to stop pretending we aren’t and to get in touch with all of who we are, not just the easy parts.
One of the key concepts I’ve learned in my outstanding Eating Psychology Coaching program is we must step into our roles as kings and queens at midlife.  Staying stuck in our roles and princes or princesses does not serve anyone. It may be fun and it may be encouraged by our society at large, but evolving into our higher selves is really where it’s at.
What do I mean by becoming kings and queens?  I mean rightfully taking charge of and owning our challenges as well as our areas of expertise.  It means contributing to our communities, serving those we are uniquely equipped to care for, and understanding the  value of our experience, connections, and failures as well as successes.
It means we are no longer plagued with such silliness as, “Does this tiara make my butt look big?” or “Does this Jaguar impress you?”  It means we now have time to make sure others have safe drinking water or proper child care or the ability to read and write.
The best way to get my groove back is to get in touch with what I am passionate about and actively pursue it.  It may start out as a physical desire that turns into a mental pursuit that becomes a spiritual quest. Or it may just be all that at the same time.
This week I’m inviting anyone in or near my location to join me for an 8-week discovery into this topic.  I’m teaching a weekly class called “How to Get Your Groove Back” on Tuesday nights from 6-7:30pm at my workplace, Clinton Community College Maquoketa Center.  I would love to have you join me.  If you are interested, call me at 563-652-5000 and I’ll fill you in on the details.
If you don’t live near me, never fear!  This is Step One in the grand plan of creating an online course so you may take the class wherever you happen to be.
I am in the process of redesigning my website and offering several exciting options for you to participate in from free classes to 30-day challenges to group coaching. The plan is to have this ready by June 1, so stay tuned!  In the meantime, if you have suggestions or ideas about what you would like to see more of, let me know.  There is still time to develop these for you.
So, groovy guys and gals, share if you dare and leave your comments below.  Thanks so much for reading!

Top Ten Tension Tackling Tunes to Keep You Humming Through The Holidays

Christmas card
It happens every year. We start out the season with visions of Christmases past when we were younger, things were easier, and our lives were manageable. This year we vow to re-create the magic. We’ll shop early, get organized, entertain lavishly without gaining an ounce, attend every school program and office party, and enjoy all the pleasures of the season.
This vow lasts until the reality of relentless schedules, impossible expectations, extra activities, and crowds at every corner bring this vision sharply into question. Then the question is no longer how will we celebrate but how will we survive?
The good news is we always survive. The bad news is we don’t always utilize the stress management techniques we perfected by the end of last holiday season. However, this year we have a new strategy.
It’s called tunes and tips. When you hear the tune, let it trigger the tension-tackling tip. And what better songs than Christmas carols to keep you humming through the holidays?
1. ‘Tis the Season to Be Jolly…
If you’ve lost your sense of humor, find it immediately!  Stuff happens and you need to keep your wits about you.
Create a stress relief kit that contains anything that conjures up calm for you. Suggestions include a foot massager, a packet of herbal tea, island getaway brochures, funny photos, your favorite music, or an emergency clown nose. Or find an app for your phone that helps you relax and is at your fingertips when you need it.
You are only one thought away from a different perspective.
2. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let it Go…

You don’t have to wish for that fluffy white stuff to perfect the holiday picture. But it is wise to acknowledge that there are certain things that are out of your control, like the weather. What is in your control is your reaction to events.
Letting go of your expectations of how events should unfold, how people should behave, and what should happen allows you to be present to what is actually going on.
3. Dashing Through the Snow…
Movement is essential to your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Since Santa supposedly has your new exercise equipment, now may not be an opportune time for you to start a fitness program. But you can easily incorporate movement into your day.
Having to park three miles away from any place peopled with shoppers gives you an excellent opportunity to squeeze in a little aerobic activity. Carrying your purchases back to that same location might be considered strength training.
There are a myriad of ways to work in a workout.  Get creative and have some fun sprinkling your day with activity sprints.
4. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire…
Too many of those nuts, candies, and homemade delights can tip the scales out of your favor. Notice how you eat, drink, and be merry. If you are eating Christmas cookies to handle your woes or drinking Jack Daniels to prevent Jack Frost from nipping at your nose, the combination of indulgences could wreak havoc on your health.
People tend to put on an extra pound or two over the holidays, which isn’t a big deal if it comes off in the New Year. Unfortunately, for many it becomes the new set point that inches up year after year.
To guarantee that you don’t become one of those weight bearing statistics, plan for party temptations by eating a healthy snack before you go.  Once there, fill up on food for thought instead of food from the party platter.  Pay attention to the decorations, check out the entertainment, or visit with the bearded man and his little friends.
5.  Making a List and Checking It Twice…
Don’t expect your already overloaded mind to remember any more than your way home and the names of your immediate family members. Count on lists to remind you of those things you have determined you must do. Make as many lists as necessary and review them before taking action. Prioritize, organize, scrutinize, and compromise, if necessary.
Even if your superpower is finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list and you love to mix and mingle with the masses, make sure to shop when you are well-rested and well-fed. Shopping when fatigued, famished, or  frazzled can lead to costly buyer’s remorse.
6. Deck the Halls…
Surround yourself with things that bring you joy. Designate a room, corner, or cupboard as your own. Then decorate that space as only you know how. Bring a bean bag elf to the office or hang mistletoe in the cafeteria. Your spirit needs nourishment and encouragement. Be sure to give yourself the time and a place to celebrate what is sacred to you.
Many people use this time of year to reflect on the current year and make goals, set intentions, and strategically plan for the new year.  Be sure to schedule some down time amidst all the hustle and bustle to envision, dream, think, contemplate, relax, pray, or hang out in nature.
7. I’ll Be Home for Christmas…
Many families are spread out over the country. This can present not only logistical challenges, but financial and emotional ones as well when you attempt to make it “home” for the holidays.
Determine if the benefits of being home are worth the stresses you may encounter getting there – especially if you are organizing this pilgrimage for your household. If home is where your heart is, then may the force be with you in your travels! But if traveling makes your heart weary, know you can create the feeling of home wherever you are.
By volunteering your time at a shelter, visiting a nursing home, or helping serve meals at a community center, you might help create the feeling of home or family for someone who no longer has one.
8. All I Want for Christmas Is…
What do you really want? What will having this item do for you? How will it satisfy your soul? What about those on your list? What might they really want? Can you give it to them in a more authentic or direct way? Is it possible for you to make something or do something that brings them more joy than the buying an expensive gift that busts your budget?
Gifts of listening, laughter, and sincere compliments are always appreciated but not always afforded to others.  When you really listen and don’t interrupt, daydream, or plan your response, the gift of listening is priceless.
Same for the gift of laughter.  Clipping cartoons or sharing articles, blog posts (like this one!), tweets, or funny videos lets your recipient know how much you value the times you laugh together.
When a compliment is simple, sincere, and specific to the person such as, “You really worked hard on this project and it shows in your client’s feedback,” or “That was a hilarious interpretation of The 12 Days of Christmas,” it benefits the giver as well as the receiver.
However you say to another,  “I see who you are. I get you. I’m glad you exist in my universe,”  is a gift indeed.
9. Silent Night …
I know what I’m about to write is a radical suggestion, but for your own good, I’m going to write it anyway.  Unplug from your electronic devices for one night and plug in to the gifts of the season.
From the sound of carolers outside your window to the squeals of small children on Santa’s lap to the brightly colored lights decorating the streets where you live, sense the beauty that surrounds you. See, hear, taste, touch, and smell the sensations of the season.
Sometimes all you need to do this is a silent night.  Remember, you have the right to remain silent.
10. Joy to the World…
In the end, it all comes down to attitude. Maybe you harbor an inner Scrooge who threatens to declare, “Bah humbug!” on all this festive frenzy. Keeping him in check may require reframing your beliefs about what you “should” do, “must” do, or “have to” do as a choice, something you “choose to” do.
Although you may be a creature of habit, you are also an evolving creature.  What gives you meaning and brings you joy one year may not the next. You may decide some traditions are simply not worth the energy it takes to carry them out and invent new ones to suit your lifestyle.
When life becomes a choice instead of a chore, the world looks a lot brighterand you have more energy to spread that joy around!
BONUS CUT:
As much as I’d like to end this post on a Joy to the World note,  I do want to acknowledge that the holidays can be a very difficult time for many people.  For years, I dreaded them.  Here’s a tip for those of you who have a hard time with holidays for any number of reasons.
I’ll Have a Blue Christmas Without You…
Despite the festive feel of brightly colored lights and pretty packages under the tree, the holidays can bring up intense feeling of loss, longing, not belonging, depression, and wanting something other than what you have.
You may feel guilty for not enjoying the holidays or for being here when others are not and consequently overspend, overindulge, or over-schedule yourself to escape your feelings.
However, denying your feelings causes them to come back and bite you when you least expect it. Give your feelings the time and attention they deserve. Find someone to talk to or write in a journal. You don’t have to go through this alone.  Connect with others who share your struggles.

I wish you whatever you need or desire to feel loved and appreciated this holiday season.

Please share this with anyone who could use some stress reducing strategies to get through the holidays.  And feel free to share your tried and true tips in the comments below.
 Thank you for reading.   Happy, Healthy Holidays to YOU!

Detox Take Away #9 – Invoke the Sacred

Girl on swing at sunset

It’s easy to count our blessings on days designed for giving thanks and celebrating the abundance of good food, good health, family and friends. Anyone can find something to be grateful for on the good days.
But how many of us regularly give thanks for the ordinary, the mundane, the million little things we couldn’t live without yet take for granted every day?
I’ve kept a gratitude journal for years, writing down the things, relationships, and experiences I am thankful for on a daily basis. Noting them has helped me recognize these moments of grace as they are happening. It has also made me aware that they are happening all the time.
During the detox I realized that while I’ve learned to appreciate many moments, I seldom experienced those moments around food. Given the number of people involved in growing, producing, shipping, marketing, and selling it, food is worthy of an abundance of appreciation. It also sustains life, putting it right up there with oxygen and water as one of the essential elements to be extremely grateful for.
I found that if I took a few moments to breathe, get present, and acknowledge the source of the course before me, I felt nourished in an entirely different way than when I attempted to multitask during a meal.
This prompted me to invoke the sacred not only when I consumed a meal, but also when I consumed someone’s creative or intellectual outpouring, when I attempted something new, or made a difficult decision. This required much more practice than I initially assumed.
I was curious as to why we are wired to be so cavalier about anything that requires us to slow down and get present in order to invite a fresh perspective – especially when it comes to food.
In his fascinating book, The Culture Code, cultural anthropologist Clotaire Rapaille asserts that we all acquire a silent system of codes as we grow up in a culture, making us uniquely American, French, German, Japanese or whatever nationality we happen to be.
In America, for example, the code for food is fuel. We think of eating as refueling and want to “fill up” on food fast, making fast food a favorite. Like a self-service gas station, all-you-can-eat buffets provide plenty food available immediately.  We devour our food without making the connection to where it came from, how it was prepared, or even how much we’ve eaten.
Whether we personally feel this way or not, growing up in a culture that unconsciously embraces the idea of the body as a machine and food as a way to keep that machine moving influences our choices.  If we go against the code, we’re bound to experience internal conflict.
Unfortunately, most of us chalk up our inability to buck the system or break bad habits to lack of willpower or some other deficit on our part instead of looking to the cultural waters we’re swimming in.
Enter mindfulness.
By mindfulness I mean paying attention.  I mean allowing yourself to breathe, center, focus, collect your thoughts, feel your feelings, give yourself a moment to get present in your body, not just your head.  It doesn’t have to take long. Remember Ten Zen Seconds?
From this place you can invoke the sacred.  And when you do, ordinary moments become extraordinary.
Your Turn
I’d love to hear how you invoke the sacred throughout the day.  I’d also love to hear how you view food or what you think the code for food is in your country.
Leave your comments below.

Detox Take Away #7 – Rhythm Is Gonna Get You

eating design

One of the concepts I am learning from my Eating Psychology coaching certification program is that timing is everything. From when we introduce new concepts to our clients to when and what we feed ourselves, there is a rhyme and a rhythm that can help us get results quicker or sabotage every step.

For many of us time is of the essence.  We hurry about grabbing meals on the go, eating in our cars, at our desks, and at all times of the day or night. We skimp on sleep, forgo our intentions to exercise, and collapse on the couch.  The accumulated impact over time can lead to weight gain, digestive issues,  sleeping challenges, you name it.
We’re a society out of sync with our rhythms. While that may not sound like a big deal, think back to the last time you traveled across multiple time zones and attempted to seal the deal on a major account as your body was desperately seeking sleep.
Our bodies really do talk to us. And not just once in a while. Like streaming video, our bodies are a constant feedback system. Our job is to listen. If we ignore the messages the body sends, it will pump up the volume.
One way I’ve learned listen  to my body is to eat when I am best equipped to metabolize meals. The first meal sets the rhythm for the day.
Eating breakfast lets our bodies know the fast is over.  Since there is no threat of starvation, there is no need to conserve energy and slow down metabolism.  Eating breakfast heats up the fuel burning mechanism in our bellies and prepares us to process the nutrients we need to get through the day.
Metabolism moves into it’s peak when the sun is highest in the sky. By eating our biggest meal between 12-1:30pm, we deploy our best digestive agents into active duty.
Body temperature then dips between approximately 2-5pm.  This explains that afternoon slump or the need to nap. Then temps start to rise again around 4-6pm.
Metabolically speaking, it makes sense to eat a healthy breakfast, substantial lunch,  and moderate evening meal.  Unfortunately, that’s the opposite of what people practice.
Many of us have a mini breakfast (if we eat at all), followed by a moderate lunch, and then go all out at dinner. This can be difficult pattern to change since the evening meal may be the one time your family gathers during the day.  It may be the only time you have to make a meal or the first time you get to relax and unwind.
I get it.  It’s a challenge for me as well.  I work long hours and often times I don’t eat lunch until 2 or sometimes 3pm. I usually don’t get home until 7pm, making dinner late as well. My new goal is to eat lunch by 1:30pm.  I’d also like to eat less during the evening meal (preferably before 7pm) leaving me with time to take a walk and digest my meal before going to bed.
It’s one thing to know better and an entirely different thing to do better.  I share this information with you not to so you have another item on your should do list but so you gain some awareness into the part rhythm plays in our overall health and well-being.
Recovering your rhythm can take some time.  You can start by experimenting with when you eat, even if you have no interest in changing what you eat.  Notice how you feel. Then pay attention to when you naturally want to move, sleep, work, and play and how you feel when you honor your instincts and follow your own rhythm.
I’d love to hear about your experiences. How does the timing of meals impact you?
Share if you dare in the comments below.

Detox Take Away #4 – Size Matters

Measure design

The size of our plate, the height and width of our glass, the comfort level of our clothes. According toBrian Wansink, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab and author of the book Mindless Eating, these are just a few of the factors that play a part in our ongoing effort to battle the bulge.

Unfortunately, these covert attempts at mind manipulation are so subtle that we seldom realize they could be  leading to weight gain.  This slippery slope can be as simple the 25 extra calories a day that add up to 2.5 pounds a year or 25 pounds in a decade.
A normal serving size on an 8 inch plate might look like an appetizer on a 12 inch plate. A drink in a tall, slender glass might seem more like a shot in a short, wide tumbler.  Wearing a track suit to a buffet may feel better than sporting Spanx or a body shaper, but if we constantly wear loose-fitting clothing, we can easily lose sight of the weight measurement many of us rely on more than a scale – how our clothes fit.
While most of us are aware of the dangers of super-sizing, we remain blissfully unaware of the advantage food marketers have on the subliminal marketing of their products. They are brilliant at getting their brands to look delicious, desirable, and therefore, in high demand.
But you and I know better. Or at least we think we do. It takes constant awareness and presence to keep our wits about us and we navigate the aisles of our supermarkets, health food co-ops, and menus at our favorite eating establishments. They are all equipped with weapons of mass distraction, designed to derail us from our best intentions of making conscious choices about how we nourish ourselves and our families.
What I learned from the detox is it takes a lot of practice to implement these ideas. It also takes a lot of education. Fortunately there are tons of books, blogs, websites, articles, and programs intent on bringing us out of the dark ages of nutrition and into the light of a new dietary day. Admittedly, the information can be overwhelming, confusing, and even conflicting.
My goal is to gather the resources I’ve found to be most helpful in my journey and share them with you. I’ll get them to you in the next week.
In the meantime, become a detective. Discover the hidden ways you are being influenced and literally shaped by habits that you may not have questioned before.
I’ll leave you with some food for thought:

  • What is a serving size? What does it look like? How does it look different depending on the size and even the color of the plate, glass, or container?
  • Do you think you eat more calories consuming handfuls of pretzels in front of the television or computer screen or sitting down at the table with a piece of pie? (Hint: When you’re unconscious about what or how much you’re eating, you’re going to eat more.)
  • How many decisions about food do you think you make per day? (Hint: It’s closer to 200 than 20.) Do you see how the sheer number can lead to poor choices?
  • Do you eat more of an item if you leave the box or package or dish on the table than if you put it back in the pantry or stove? (Hint: Make it inconvenient to grab more.)

That’s today’s take away.  Next up:  Hunger Games.  Hunger is not the enemy.
Share if you dare below any questions, insights, or ideas.  Thanks for reading.

Detox Take Away #1 – Freedom through Discipline

sign direction risk - reward
As a former free-spirit, if anyone dared to suggest my life might be easier by imposing a few more rules or a little more structure,  I would have laughed. Wanting to be free to move at a moment’s notice or leap whether the net appeared or not, I was all about keeping my options open.
Eventually all that uncertainty takes its toll.  Ironically, the kind of freedom I was really craving came through discipline.
Nowhere was this more obvious than in my approach to eating.
Years of pretending to be eating healthy while skipping meals, over consuming carbohydrates, and leading a more sedentary lifestyle was a definite detour from the wellness way I thought I was following.
The detox provided a much needed GPS.  Life became so much easier once I knew what I was going to eat, when I would need to eat it, what I needed to buy, and how to prepare for various contingencies.
Prior to the detox, the daily “What’s for dinner?” dilemma opened the door to all kinds of bad choices, especially if I waited too long to answer it. Then anything and everything was fair game.
The detox forced me to plan my meals, plan my snacks, frequent the grocery store more often (because fresh foods don’t last too long), and bring order to the food court so poor choices were no longer an option.
Once I implemented the plan, I was rewarded with consistent energy throughout the day, an even temperament, and a better ability to find the center of calm when chaos threatened to reign.
Those of you who have been preparing family meals already know the importance of planning. But for someone like me who has been making meals mainly for myself, planning seemed unnecessary.  Especially when popcorn or soup could suffice.
The detox forced me to take a disciplined approach to everything from meal planning to meal timing.  We all know what happens when we get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Hangry.  And all kinds of whacked out.
So I got to treat myself like I would treat a small child left in my care.  I had to purchase, plan, and prepare the most nutritious meals I could given a specific set of criteria.
In order to keep it interesting, I placed the food on colorful and appropriately sized plates. I used cloth napkins. I relaxed and tasted the foods, savored the smells and spices, and allowed myself to feel nourished not only by the food but the effort that went into the preparation.
The results were profound.  After one too many meals consumed in the car on the way to a meeting or at my desk while replying to emails or in the kitchen in a quick and unconscious attempt to stuff the stress of the day away, this was a game changer for me. So was salmon for breakfast, but I’ll fill you in on that in a couple of days.
For now, I’ll leave you with this question. What’s nourishing to you?  How can a little prep time or planning pay off  and allow you to feel really nourished by what you are eating?  Especially if you live alone, how can you make meal times sacred?
We all have to eat.  It’s a requirement for being in a body.  Why not make it a pleasurable event?
Next post I’ll share with you Take Away #2 – Eat High Quality Foods.
Until then, eat (good food), drink (lots of water), and be merry (or whatever you happen to be feeling)!
Share if you dare below.  I’d love to hear your questions or suggestions.

The Secret Slow Eaters Savor

There’s one in every family.
In my family it happens to be my dad.  He’s the one who can turn any meal into an all day affair.  Not because of the endless preparation involved in cooking a family feast. Except for the occasional turkey, he doesn’t cook.
He’s just a slow eater.  Regardless if he’s the first to start eating, he’s always the last to  finish.
Turns out, that’s a good thing.
As an ACE-certified fitness professional now pursuing a coaching certificate in Dynamic Eating Psychology, I’m fascinated by many aspects of eating I’ve never considered before that have literally shaped my life.
I’m currently reading a book by Marc David called The Slow Down Diet.  David asserts that it’s not just what you eat  but how you eat that determines your body’s ability to digest and metabolize food.
If you eat when you are stressed, distracted, unaware of what or how much you’re putting in your mouth, and you eat as quickly as possible, is it any wonder you suffer heartburn, indigestion, bloating, constipation, or any number of digestive issues in response?
When your body is concerned with threats to your well-being, the last thing it is going to think about is digesting the doughnut that somehow found its way into abyss known as your belly.  Instead of extracting all the nutrients it can from the protein, fruits, and veggies you wisely fed it, your body is going to be busy secreting stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline into your circulatory system.  Blood flow will be rerouted to your brain for quick thinking and to your arms and legs, should you find the need to fight or flee.
Can you see how continually operating in survival mode can give you gas or at least irritable bowels?  On the one hand you must eat to survive, but on the other, constant stress, speed, and failure to engage in the present moment will see to it that you don’t.
Today’s post is not intended to freak you out or give you another “should” to add to your “should do” list.  I’d merely like to make a suggestion I think is both doable and enjoyable.
Here’s the good news.  You don’t have to change your diet (yet!). That may come later. This week’s challenge is simply to try this exercise in eating awareness as many times as possible.
Here’s how it works:

  1. Notice what you are eating.  Notice the texture, the color, the smell, the size, any especially endearing quality about what you are about to put in your mouth.
  2.  Notice why you are eating. You love it? It was all that was in the frig? You are nervous, bored, or otherwise in need of stimulation, sweetness, acceptance, or love?  (You weren’t expecting to dive deep into the psychological underbelly of eating quite so quickly, were you?  Pack your bags.  That’s where we’re headed.)
  3.  Take your time eating.  Before you take a single bite, breathe.  Even if you are ravenous, especially if you are ravenous, breathe. Then take a bite.  Chew.  Chew some more. Breathe. Repeat. Follow my dad’s example. Be the last person at the table to finish eating.
  4.  Eat in a pleasant environment.  No matter how much you love your car or office, do not eat an experimental meal in your car, at your desk, or after having an especially emotional exchange with your credit card company. Get out the china.  Use the special silverware. Break out the wine glasses.  Find the cloth napkins cleverly cinched up in the napkin rings you received as a housewarming gift.  Do whatever it takes to make this meal meaningful.
  5.  Luxuriate in the present moment.  Maybe you are surrounded by someone who makes you laugh, lights your fire, or unleashes your creativity.  Perhaps you’re alone at last. Whatever the case, keep this in mind.  Pleasure is a nutrient too. Don’t squander the moments you’ve carved out to nourish yourself with crazy-making activities or crazy-making people.  Whether it’s fifteen minutes or a few hours, take the time to savor your meal, the conversation or silence, and your surroundings.

I am confident you can do the above 5 steps without too much effort.  I also have a strong suspicion these steps have the power to revolutionize the way you eat and feel.
I’d love to hear what you discover.
Share if you dare below.