Awareness: The First Step to Winning The Mental Weight Game

Ironically, those of us who love food and see it as central to our happiness are not very aware when we’re eating. We find ourselves eating quickly or while doing something else, such as driving, talking on the phone, watching television, or reading, so the experience of eating isn’t as satisfying as it could be.

The first step to losing weight and keeping it off for the rest of your life is awareness. Begin to bring awareness to the whole process of eating by getting curious about it: When and why do you decide to eat something? What are your eating triggers? How are you feeling while you’re eating? Are you engaged in the experience of eating, or is your mind somewhere else, engaged in problem solving or ruminating over a frustrating experience? What is going on for you when the idea of eating crosses your mind and you’re not hungry and it’s not time to eat? Follow these next steps to help you begin to bring more awareness to your eating:

 Set the intention. Set the intention to bring awareness to your eating and your thoughts about food. Once you have set an intention to understand more about your eating, be prepared for insights to arise.

  1. Notice eating triggers. How does eating happen for you? How do you decide when and what to eat? What are you thinking, feeling, or believing when the idea of eating something pops in? What are the emotions and thoughts that send you racing toward the fridge? When you’re bored, is your first impulse to get some food?
  2. Notice your thoughts. What are you thinking about? Are you anxious about paying your bills? Are you replaying an uncomfortable conversation from earlier in the day?
  3. Be aware of your feelings. What are you feeling? Are you stressed, anxious, angry, or fearful? Does the life you’re living suit you? Are you doing what you love to do? If your overall choices aren’t right for you, you’re going to feel depressed, and that depression will fuel your food issues.
  4. Take some notes. Start a Food Awareness Journal for your food thoughts and your experience of eating. Record food thoughts that come up when you’re not hungry and it’s not time to eat. Then, record your actual experience of eating. How aware are you? If any insights or images that come to mind, record those as well.
  5. Be aware of portion size. Become aware of how much food you’re putting on your plate. Is it a reasonable amount? Many of us are used to eating portions that are much larger than we need.
  6. Be aware of other activities while eating. What are you doing when you’re eating? Are you driving, surfing the Internet, watching television, or having a heated discussion?
  7. Eat while you are eating once every day. Even if you are only eating an apple or a handful of nuts, sit down by yourself and only eat. Eat with no other distractions, without talking on the phone, reading, or watching television. Only eat. Then, record your experience in your Food Awareness Journal.