What is Mindfulness?
At its simplest, mindfulness is awareness of the present moment. Instead of just telling you about it, experience mindfulness for yourself right now. Stop reading for a moment and pay attention to your body in your seat. Simply notice how it feels. What are you aware of? If you notice that you’re uncomfortable, what could you change to feel more comfortable? Could you shift positions? Get a drink? Grab a blanket? You may be thinking, Huh? That sounds too simple! All I have to do is pay attention? Besides, how can being more aware help my diabetes? Focusing on the information available to you right now enables you to make self-care decisions. While it sounds pretty simple, I’ll admit that it’s not always easy. It’s common to “check out” rather than notice our physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions. For example, you may be distracted by television or the Internet, preoccupied with memories of the past or worries about the future, or unconsciously responding to triggers you learned years earlier. The tendency to ignore and even distrust what’s happening right now forces us to act out of old habits instead of using the most current information to make decisions. We have no choice but to react (re-act out the past) rather than respond to what is needed now (response-ability). This tendency to disconnect from what we’re experiencing right now affects every aspect of our lives-including our health.
How Does Mindfulness Help with Diabetes Self-Management?
The key to diabetes self-management is self. How can you manage your self, without awareness of yourself?! Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes (by Michelle May MD with Megrette Fletcher MED RD CDCES) is the first book to apply the ancient concept of mindfullness to the current problem of diabetes. This rare prescription for managing prediabetes and diabetes guides you to eat mindfully and joyfully by tapping into your “inner expert.” You’ll learn how to become more aware of your body, your thoughts, and your feelings. You’ll soon be making more conscious choices about your eating, physical activity, optimal blood glucose management, and self-care. You’ll develop the new skills and tools necessary for lifelong diabetes self-management and health. Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes is divided into six parts, each of which is based on a key mindfulness skill: Awareness, Curiosity, Nonjudgment, Being Present, Letting Go, and Acceptance. As you practice these mindfulness skills, you’ll notice a major shift in the way you think. This shift will also positively affect your relationships, work, and other important aspects of your life. On this foundation of mindfulness, we reconstruct the process of diabetes self-management through a series of manageable, sustainable steps that you can master one at a time. Each of the six parts is divided into four chapters:
- Think: Conscious decision making using the mindful eating cycle (based on Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle)
- Care: Information about diabetes and how to prevent the associated complications
- Nourish: Nutrition from a nonrestrictive, all-foods-fit perspective
- Live: Physical activity that is enjoyable and can be integrated into daily life
Every choice you make is an opportunity to experience and better understand why you do the things you do and to choose differently next time if it will serve you better. Megrette and I have both experienced the profound effect of mindfulness on eating and living. We are excited to share these concepts and skills with you to help you thrive with prediabetes or diabetes!