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Body, Mind & Spirit: Developing a healthier relationship with food

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By Pat Larsen

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of a female named Pat Larsen
Pat Larsen

We very much strive to live in the present. We often focus on the present moment until… we don’t.

A “to do list for the day” morphs into many other things even without quite meaning to. Perhaps it’s a phone call that begs for our time and attention or a forgotten task that suddenly takes over our thoughts for the day. An hour can then lead into a blur of several hours that then leads us to wonder where our day went. 

That then includes a question about what we have eaten, if anything at all. It can be very frustrating. Many of us are wanting very much to develop a better relationship with the food that we eat, especially in the quantity and quality of these foods, in an effort to curb extra weight, get a handle on excess carbs and sugar, or just slow down long enough to enjoy a meal without the looming excessive things we have to do.

Being busy and busy eating are two things that should not be mixed. Yet it’s become a meal-on-the-go society. 

I have found that by exercising some mental muscle, we can learn how to hold onto our present moments through a focus of attention that can lead to a very satisfying result, especially where our meals are concerned. Nourishing ourselves began as it did as babes, with the instinct for survival. Now, it’s pure craving, often of the kinds of foods that fill our bellies but doesn’t feed and nourish our bodies.

With that in mind, I set about to teach a mini workshop in my class that helped my students to develop better skills to create an intention for themselves that built a better result through the “power of presence.” 

It’s actually called a Mindful Eating Practice. Here’s how it works. In this particular situation each participant was instructed to bring a piece of fruit of their choosing to the program. 

They were told to focus on their choice with only themselves in mind; not the family, not what the kids liked or what was on sale.

A perfect piece of fruit that first and foremost was their favorite.

Just one piece. 

As we began the program, I asked each person to write down a description of their choice and why they had chosen it. We then began to eat the fruit with each of our senses. Again, writing down each step along the way.

Slowly and deliberately focusing on sight, smell, texture, before biting into the fruit. Then as we took our first bite into the fruit, we added taste and the sound the fruit made to the descriptive mix.

Finally, after the grueling exercise of holding back before actually eating their piece of fruit, we joined in to discuss the benefits associated with these fruit choices regarding vitamins and minerals.

From beginning to end, this exercise took approximately 24 fun-filled minutes to complete. It quickly became clear that the benefits of our efforts really showcased how fruits or foods in general can be better enjoyed by staying present with more focus. 

Eating mindfully also tends to add an additional benefit of filling us up with less quantity when we add that time to savor every mouthful. Try this exercise yourself or with your grandkids. 

Train your mind to immerse yourself in the moments of eating.

When we bring this intention to our conscious mind, slowing down, savoring with all our senses, exploring new tastes and smells with textures, it helps us to cultivate a better relationship with what food can do for us and allows us to live up to our full potential. Try it.

Pat Larsen lives in Greene County and teaches fitness classes and programs for living your best life to seniors and baby boomers. As a certified clinical hypnotherapist, Pat has helped many let go of issues that have kept them stuck through the practice of conscious story. Pat regularly teaches fitness classes at The Shamrock House as well. Please email her at pelarsen5@aol.com.

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