Yesterday, I went shopping at Costco and as I shopped, I ate my way through the store, occasionally, selectively, one tasty food sample at a time. And there was not a compulsive eating thought or guilty feeling in sight…
I ate one forkful of pumpkin pie, one quarter size slice of Italian sausage, one chip with peach mango salsa on it, a small cup of an apple, banana, spinach smoothie, four crunchy veggie straws, and two little chocolate covered pretzels.
As I shopped, and happened upon a person behind a cart offering a sample, I glanced over and chose the food only if it looked like something I’d enjoy. If there was a crowd in front of a cart, I easily passing by. I passed up many more samples than I chose. I did not feel compulsive or compelled to try something, just because it was there, or because it was free, or because it was once a forbidden food for me.
This felt very different from days gone by. This was not compulsive eating. I didn’t feel anxious, or guilty, ashamed, or like I was doing something wrong. I was not breaking some restrictive or ridiculous self-imposed “food rule” or “diet”. This was not at all triggering. It did not lead me to want to buy junk food or any other foods I don’t normally buy at Costco. It did not trigger a fast-food binge on the way home from the store. It was just fun. It was filling. I left the store feeling quite satisfied and full, so I took note; this was my lunch.
People often ask me what I eat, what’s different about how I eat now that I am not struggling with compulsive eating. I answer, “These days, I eat mindfully”. By mindfully, I don’t mean I sit quietly when I eat, with absolutely no distractions, and focus only on the food I’m putting into my mouth. By mindfully, I mean that I am conscious, aware, not eating to go “mindless”, or to go numb. I choose foods that I enjoy, in quantities that leave me feeling satisfied and comfortable in my body.
Sometimes, I eat too much. Doesn’t everyone overeat on occasion–even those who have never struggled with compulsive eating or a binge eating disorder? For example, today, after seeing a movie, I had lunch with a friend at an IHOP. I hadn’t been to an IHOP in years! I ordered and ate bacon and eggs and a half of a Belgian waffle. I left the restaurant feeling stuffed! I was mindful that I didn’t like that feeling. I wasn’t feeling at all guilty, just stuffed. My stomach was even a bit upset. I was mindful of why, these days, I only eat this way on occasion. No worries…mindfully, I decided I would see how I felt at dinner time tonight…and I might consider eating a dinner a bit on the lighter side; likely a small piece of salmon and some veggies. I’ll decide, mindfully, when I get there. That’s how I eat today; mindfully…guilt and compulsive eating free.
Ellen Shuman is a pioneer in the field of Binge Eating Disorder; a Life Coach who specializes in helping people overcome emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), A Founding Member and Past President of BEDA; The Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”. For information about Coaching Services, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, 513-321-4242.