“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.”

zen proverb.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Did you have too much pie like I did (pumpkin is my favorite)? After weeks of overwork and overstress, I’m enjoying my long holiday weekend and relishing this opportunity to tune out a little and relax.

As I explained in the previous post, I have recalibrated my fitness plan and now need to move on to my diet. I find a good way to reset is to employ a somewhat loose approach with some ground rules similar those described in Darya Rose’s “Foodist Recalibration”:

“I don’t diet or ‘cleanse’ (I’ve yet to hear a scientific explanation of what that actually means), but I’m taking the first two weeks of January to eat extra healthy and recalibrate back to my regular happy self.”

This means no sugar, dairy, wheat, or alcohol. Drink lots of water, green tea, and eat leafy greens for lunch and dinner. Do this for a couple of weeks, After that, gradually add back foods from the “no” list – in moderation. As I write, it sounds so simple. But many of us know that in practice it takes a lot of effort and attention.

Chai tea and locally made almond milk in my favorite mug.

After willfully refusing to eat properly for a few weeks, I’m preparing myself for some discipline on this front. But stress is my biggest enemy when it comes to eating healthfully. Because I don’t anticipate the amount of stress in my life to decrease, and in fact may very well multiply as the holidays draw closer, efforts must be made to manage this stress and not allow my diet to become a causality of it.

Mindful eating is another one of those things that sound easy on paper but is actually very difficult to employ. I just want to watch hulu, read an article on the internet, maybe do some work, write, or otherwise tune out during a meal. The fact is that I often like to do something as a eat and I find pleasure these associated activities.

There’s no shortage of resources on the technique mindful eating, but this 2012 New York Times article is one that I’m starting with.  It boils down the practice of mindful eating as:

“…not a diet, or about giving up anything at all. It’s about experiencing food more intensely — especially the pleasure of it. You can eat a cheeseburger mindfully, if you wish. You might enjoy it a lot more. Or you might decide, halfway through, that your body has had enough. Or that it really needs some salad.”

The article finishes with a list of strategies to help you start eating mindfully.

WHEN YOU EAT, JUST EAT. Unplug the electronica. For now, at least, focus on the food.

CONSIDER SILENCE. Avoiding chatter for 30 minutes might be impossible in some families, especially with young children, but specialists suggest that greenhorns start with short periods of quiet.

TRY IT WEEKLY. Sometimes there’s no way to avoid wolfing down onion rings in your cubicle. But if you set aside one sit-down meal a week as an experiment in mindfulness, the insights may influence everything else you do.

PLANT A GARDEN, AND COOK. Anything that reconnects you with the process of creating food will magnify your mindfulness.

CHEW PATIENTLY. It’s not easy, but try to slow down, aiming for 25 to 30 chews for each mouthful.

USE FLOWERS AND CANDLES. Put them on the table before dinner. Rituals that create a serene environment help foster what one advocate calls “that moment of gratitude.”

FIND A BUDDHIST CONGREGATION where the members invite people in for a day of mindfulness. For New Yorkers, it’s an easy drive to the Blue Cliff Monastery, about 90 minutes north of the city: bluecliffmonastery.org/ on the Web.

In Northern California, Mindfulness Practice Center of Fairfax (http://www.mpcf.org/) offers half-day and full-day workshops. Fairfax is great..not a bad place to be present! 



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