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Life After Paralysis is a blog that represents a variety of paralysis community members. It is a place for open conversation about the issues and the interests of people living with paralysis, their family, friends, caregivers, and the professionals that serve them.
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Early in my life I caught on that I’m an emotion eater. I would stare blankly at the inside of the refrigerator not able to recognize what I was looking at or how I got there. All I could process was I wanted to eat something and I wasn’t hungry, it was due to the fact that I was feeling strong emotions. It could have been any feeling, happiness or accomplishment or frustration or anger or sadness. It didn’t matter what the emotion was, if it was strong I needed to calm it and food was my tranquilizer.
I’ve shared my meditation practice in past blogs. Well something has come up from my practice that has created a side effect on me that I didn’t intend, weight control by becoming aware of my emotional eating. I’ve begun catching my mindless and habitual response stopping the theatrics of gazing into the depths of the icebox, reaching for a placebo. I can now choose to let myself go there, to eat or not to eat my fervor away or roll away, close the door and eat when I am truly tummy growly hungry.
Over time as my meditation practice has grown so has my ability to consciously feel my physical and psychological responses to situations that have triggered me to eat for comfort. I’m finding now when I get do get triggered that I am often able to feel the sensations going on in my body and mind and simply breath a few breaths which decreases the stress I’m feeling, that in the past I tried to eat away.
This is so cool because when I was sporty girl and exercising like mad I could eat through any old feeling that got me reeling. But after I retired from heavy sports and I wasn’t as active, when my intense emotions had me munching everything in sight I started to get a little Buddha belly. I didn’t like it. The bigger my belly got the more cortisol (a stress hormone) I made because fat cells in the belly have four times more cortisol receptors and then the more stress I felt the more I wanted to eat and the bigger my belly got. Round and round the circle goes.
Then my meditation practice kicked in with mindful mouthfuls. As I caught myself rolling away from the fridge door and my belly shrank, it got me wondering if there was any research on this subject? Well, we are in luck, this isn’t just some mystical voodoo mojo, there’s real science behind this attentiveness bonus and my decreased belly. I found a study published in the Journal of Obesity by Jennifer Daubenmier, PhD, is Assistant Professor at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine in the Department of Medicine at UCSF.
This four-month pilot study of forty-seven women was focused on a mindfulness practice and it’s affects on the reduction of belly fat. The women had to have a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 40 and they had to weight less than 300 pounds. The results of the study were that on average the women lost 4.2 ounces of belly fat and had significant reduction of cortisol levels.
I am astonished that I began to have results like these, without purposeful intending to. This has got me exploring other areas of my life for signs of mindless mindfulness.
The subjects in the study were taught mindfulness-based strategies and disciplines defined as “an open, nonjudgmental stance towards the present-moment experience as a way to disidentify with and interrupt habitual patterns of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to allow for more adaptive responses to occur. Mindfulness is cultivated through systematic training of a focused state of awareness through repeated attendance to bodily and other sensory experiences, thoughts, and emotions.”
Here’s one of the disciplines that you can try. I did this one and it really slowed down my eating so much so the strong sweetness in the raisins, almost satisfied my sweet tooth, I said almost. Take three raisins and over the course of ten minutes study the color and skin by rolling them in your hand. Pinch them to take in their smell and feel the plump or dryness. One at a time eat the raisins paying close attention to the sensations of touch, smell, sight and taste as well as your thoughts that you experience as you are practicing this mindful raisin eating.
When I began my practice of mindfulness meditation my intention was to just do my very best I could to quite my busy mind. I had no idea that my practice would evolve in such a way as to change the way I eat or the way I experience the world. Oh don’t get me wrong I can still wolf down a meal in two seconds flat with out a thought. But more and more I’m letting go of my mindless, habitual eating and making a choice about how I feel and if I want to eat my feeling away.
Blessings to All, In Joy Candace
© 2013 Candace Cable
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