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Finding Intention in the Still Waters of Mindful Eating

By Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., R.D., C.D.E
By Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., RD, CDE

Mindful eating can simplistically be explained as fostering both attention and intention. Don’t be surprised to discover that your intentions are dynamic and shift during the change process. This makes identifying them far more complex than you might initially realize. One minute they are clear, the next minute clouded and uncertain.

water ring 2To help you understand why discovering your intention might be helpful, think of intention as similar to the rings in the water that are created from a tossed stone. They start out small, but as they travel, they grow larger and larger until they reach the shore.  Finding the place where the stone entered the water is equivalent to helping you discover the cause of the rings – or the point where change will have the most impact.

It is easy to find the place where the stone entered the water when it is still and calm.  However, when the water is choppy and full of waves, finding that spot is far more challenging. This is where mindful eating can be helpful.

How? Helping you calm the rough waters of life, by pausing, decreasing distraction, tasting food fully and bringing a curious, not critical, attitude to a meal, is often the step that is necessary for awareness to arise.

Unfortunately, in our busy, information-driven lives, many nutrition session focus only on imparting facts and knowledge without including time to absorb, process and fully understand the impact of a choice. The wisdom associated with knowledge is lost if it does not include reflection to see the effects of a choice.

Mindful eating helps you see the big picture often enabling you to understand how the simple intention, often creates many unintended ripples.  For example, “grabbing something quick” may be favored because it meets the immediate need of ease or speed. Yet without reflection, you may not notice that these types of foods can be lower in nutrients and lack flavor, resulting in meals and snacks that are not enjoyed.

After eating this you may think “Why do I eat this? Why don’t I just change?”  However, food selection is complex and unique to each situation and person. There is no  “one reason fits all” answer. Uncovering your intent takes time, patience and often persistence. Yet, when it is discovered, change often follows.

Something to try

At your next meal or snack, intentionally create a pause and ask your self: “Am I Hungry?®” and “What is my intention is for making this change?”

Let the space created by this question be noticeable. Allow yourself to not be sure, to wonder or even face doubt. These are true signs that you are working – making important connections, looking for the spot where the stone entered the water.

 

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About the author

Megrette Fletcher is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, author, and co-founder of The Center for Mindful Eating. Megrette is the 2013-2014 president of The Center for Mindful Eating, a non-profit, organization to assist health professionals to explore the concepts of mindful eating. She has written articles for and has been quoted about mindful eating in Diabetes Self Management, Today’s Dietitian, Today’s Social Worker, Bariatric Times, Glamour, Family Circle, The Wall Street Journal, US News and World Report, Women’s Day, and Oxygen Magazine. Megrette currently works as a diabetes educator in Dover, New Hampshire.

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