It’s OK to cry over your food!

I’ve developed this great habit I want to share with you…

I learnt to minimize my lifelong preference for carbohydrates to avoid the nasty health repercussions if I ate them. This practice came sharply into focus during my initial attempts to alter my eating habits, when it felt like I was denying myself, which I was!

It’s still a vivid, early post-diagnosis memory. Pushing meat or fish and veggies around my plate, often with tears welling up that’d spill over, bathing the perfectly healthy, tasty food. A litany of ‘poor me’ mind chatter would block out positive responses to my meal. Such thoughts subsumed me when eating, increasing my sense of deprivation, or decreasing any possible appreciation or enjoyment. I just wanted the meal to be over.

With certain foods, for me salmon comes to mind, eating it without carbs caused an automatic gag response.

Was this the case before diabetes and I didn’t notice it? No, before I’d have always pushed some of the ubiquitous carbs on my plate, rice or mashed potatoes, onto each forkful. When the protein was incorporated into the forkful of carbs, only then could I swallow it.

I didn’t experience every meal in this way, but entrees eaten now without a starch highlighted how much I relied on carbs to get through a meal.

Devoid of them on my plate, meals were no longer a source of pleasure for me.

 

Two vital shifts occurring over time eased this for me.

 

Firstly, as I regain my mindfulness approach, I cultivate attitudes such as gratitude and valuing what is present, not lusting after something that isn’t. I’ve much to be grateful for;

* That I’m able to buy healthy organic, sustainable or grass-fed food. Sure, it costs more, and not everyone has access to that quality of food, or the money to buy it. I reframed it to myself as healthcare costs, which made it more palatable. It is a form of preventative care investing in my future health. If I don’t do that via quality food now, my healthcare costs will spiral off the charts later on from expensive-to-treat complications resulting from poorly controlled Type 2. (Did I mention I pay out-of-pocket as I have an enormously high deductible with my ‘catastrophic’ medical insurance?)

* That I’m capable of learning this different way to eat, despite stumbling often and hard, and that I have both the professional and spiritual training resulting in a mind highly adaptable to new directions.

 

The second major shift happened more physiologically as my body and taste buds underwent their own renaissance. Tolerance and pleasure built as my taste buds grew in acuity. My body seemingly has been able to adapt to differing combinations of food choices and nutrients, flourishing and rewarding me by working to bring a synergy between food and the experience of eating it.

Refraining from eating anything sugary post-diagnosis, after a while I began to notice a subtle sweetness in certain foods such as cherry tomatoes and blueberries for the first time.

Salty too now catapulted to the forefront of my taste buds. I’d stopped adding salt to my food years ago, even using it exceedingly sparingly in cooking. As my sweet cravings declined-avoid anything sweet for about 2 weeks and the cravings will significantly diminish, I grew aware of craving salty in its place! When I thought about it, it was the strength of the flavor that appealed.

 

I liked that my taste buds jangled!

 

Discovering my response to the taste of salty was a restorative occurrence. Becoming mindful, that is paying deep attention, to the experience of receiving the taste relayed back to me via my taste buds-no mean feat for such a low taster as myself, now led me to the recently lost pleasure of eating!

Even somewhat subtle flavors became far more distinctive to me, another effect I attribute to being mindful, which tends to heighten all sensory experiences.

Along with the shift in taste, paying more attention than ever to my experience of eating, the texture of food moved to the forefront. I began to clearly see my preference for crispy, crunchy, or comforting creamy foods. Given my abysmal taste buds, I wasn’t too surprised to have this re-affirmed.

Although I already knew this information, looking at my eating habits through a lens of mindfulness sharpened the focus. The knowledge of my preferences had become solely intellectual. A kind of just ‘knowing’ it, quite divorced from receiving the information in the moment from the direct experience.

I am learning to speak the language of eating, articulating the wordless nuances and predilections with which I’d previously not given a voice to, or even been aware of.

 

My own take-away was a surprising ability to taste sweetness in foods I didn’t associate with being sweet. And the realization that until I let go my preference for sweetness, eating sugar caused me to build a tolerance for it, resulting in tasting it less and needing more to get the ‘hit’. So it took away from any subtlety in discovering that taste in other foods!

Another take-away is remembering to treat myself with kindness! When I cried over my food, I allowed myself to feel the deprivation, because that was exactly what was happening in that moment. Self-compassion, or simply feeling kindness towards myself helped me not get stuck in the story about being deprived.

 

A helpful hint in cutting out sugar-substitute a minty flavor! Drink mint tea instead of dessert, or pop some gum or a mint in your mouth after a meal. It’ll cut down sweet cravings…stick to it for 2 weeks, and your cravings will decrease dramatically providing you keep the ‘nothing sweet for 2 weeks’ rule.

 

Questions for you to ponder or leave a comment about

What do you notice about your food tastes?

How do you feel about the food preferences you notice?

 

What’s Goldilocks and the Buddha got to do with Type 2?

What’s Goldilocks and the Buddha got to do with Type 2?

A lot, as it turns out.

Remember Goldilocks? She couldn’t tolerate her food being too hot or too cold. It had to be just right.

Just right means choosing options in the middle, not at the extremes.

The Buddha too endorsed the middle path as the least destructive way to live. His own life experiences taught him that neither excesses, which can lead to over-indulgence, nor too little which leaves us feeling deprived, work.

 

 

With Type 2, the benefits of this philosophy are soon evident in many areas, especially food.

 

If I go either too long without eating, or eat too frequently, my blood glucose reflects that. The same can be said for portion size. Too big or too little can also result in higher levels.

 

There’s no manual that’ll work for everyone.

 

General fitness level, how much activity that day, your weight, how much you drink – these all vary from person to person, day to day, contributing to fluctuating numbers.

 

Even the temperature has an impact. Too hot and humid, or quite chilly can effect levels. The higher the humidity, the less stable mine is.

 

The only sure way to constantly manage is paying attention, testing frequently, and correcting trends if necessary.

 

Being mindful allows me to check in, making whatever adjustments I need to correct, maintaining my blood glucose at an acceptable level.

 

The overall system of managing this condition, and the apparent similarity in keeping all these balls in the air at just the right height enables me to feel less confused. I firmly get that the middle path is crucial, and rather than feeling all over the map, can grasp this fundamental information that seems less random.

 

If you’re unsure where the middle pathway lies, take a moment to think about it. Ponder what would feel extreme in either direction, indicating too much or too little.

 

With portion size, first imagine a plate with food piled high, like a hill. Probably too large a portion if you can’t see all of the food, as some is hidden under the rest piled on top.

 

Now imagine the opposite, too small a portion. Here, a few pieces of food are arranged on the plate, not touching each other with an easy view of the plate in between the pieces. Most likely too small a portion, BUT, eat it and wait 20 minutes for it to digest.

 

After 20 minutes, if you still feel hungry, eat a little more. If you don’t feel hungry, or even better, feel full, than it was sufficient.

 

Everyone has different food needs, and individually will vary from meal to meal, day to day.

 

Learn about yours by paying intimate attention to your optimal eating habits.

 

I recognized that my eyes distorted the amount. So I began to re-train myself by giving myself permission to have a second helping after the 20 minute test. I was constantly surprised by how infrequently I needed more.

 

Over time, knowing I can have more food if I need it, and won’t starve, I can now be more accurate in eyeballing my portion.

 

Result is I eat far less food, and recognize the sensation of when I feel full as I’m not over-riding the ‘full’ switch.

 

I continually draw upon Goldilocks and the Buddha’s advice to remind myself to not become complacent, but continue to pay attention.

 

My quality of life depends upon it.

 

Who left that pile of crap there? The 6 ‘R’s of dealing with obstacles

Stuff happens.

It doesn’t say anything about who we are.

You’re driving on the freeway, and a car nips into the space in front of you, forcing you to slow down to allow it in.

That didn’t happen because you’re a bad person. But in your mind, an attitude appears, then a storyline develops.

“What the _______!” Bloody dangerous thing to do. Now I’ve got to slow down to let him in, and that’ll make me late for my meeting. When the boss finds out I was late, she’ll watch me like a hawk from now on. Bang goes that promotion, I’m screwed now. When the wife find out, she’ll be pissed at me again. No snuggle time for months, can’t believe it…that guy drives like a maniac, cutting off everyone…”

…and so on.

Sound vaguely familiar? Change around the circumstances to fit your latest escapade, and you’ll recognize most of us don’t do too well with perceived obstacles in our way. When we’re restrained from doing what we want, anger often arises.

Anger is like throwing a hot coal at someone, we burn ourselves first!

Virtually all the time, obstacles are not chosen, and their appearance has little to do with us.

The 6 ‘R’s’ of dealing with obstacles.

1. Recognize Firstly that you’re dealing with an obstacle! Seeing it for what it is is the first step. Sounds obvious, but how often do you personalize an obstacle? In the example about, not recognizing the car in front is simply an obstacle, the internal storyline goes from bad to worse! Unchecked, in that situation often it’s not too long before you also get down on yourself or not having taken a different route!

It’s just circumstantial!

2. Relax Don’t rail against it! It won’t change the situation but will make you feel worse. Instead, practice accepting that this is how it is! It’s not personal, and accepting the circumstances probably won’t make you late, loose your promotion or your wife’s good graces!

 

3. Restraint Don’t act out. Speeding up behind the other car, cutting him, or someone else off in retribution only fuels your own frustration! No other driver will see it the same way as you do. Resist the urge to act out, be the bigger person here.

 

4. Receive Without judgment or preference what is happening, and the nature of it. See clearly how things are, not what your mind embellishes or manufactures.

 

5. Reframe Welcome another opportunity to develop awareness, clear seeing! By altering the frame through which you understand any circumstance, it takes on another meaning. If you find yourself fretting over something that feels a big deal, picture yourself on your deathbed, and ask yourself, will I remember this petty little thing I’m so riled up over when I’m dying?

 

6. Realize All difficulties or obstacles have 3 main characteristics;

1. They are all impermanent, and will exist for a short time only.

2. They are all unsatisfactory, otherwise we wouldn’t percieve them as obstacles.

3. They have their own causes or conditions. It’s not personal, we just need be aware of them.

 

Working with the 6 ‘R’s’ can be applied to ANY perceived obstacle, try it and see for yourself…