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Mindful Eating Detour: Not Wanting to Think

Note: I noticed a while ago that I had drifted away from many aspects of mindful eating. It took me a while to figure out why I got detoured. It was a combination of things, so this is part of a short series looking at all those elements. Also, for more information about the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program, visit or my website.

Do you ever feel like you don’t want to get to the bottom of something because you know you won’t like what you’ll find?

This is tricky from a mindful eating perspective. After all, in the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program, the first step of mindful eating is to figure out why you want to eat.

Not wanting to think about the why has been part of my mindful eating detour.

This doesn’t apply to simple situations, like if someone brought doughnuts to work – the really good kind. Or like me last Thursday, when it was a hot day and I had a coupon for gelato (though I did eat the mint chocolate chunk gelato mindfully).

But sometimes it goes deeper than that. That’s when avoidance can set in.

Maybe you want to eat because of some emotion you don’t want to feel. Food is a good distraction. It can act as a bandaid, to cover up something you don’t want to look at.

Except just like a bandaid, it won’t fix the underlying issue. And if the problem goes deep enough, it won’t resolve itself.

Recently I realized I was trying to ignore how things had changed since the beginning of the year. I didn’t want to acknowledge that a long-time way of life was coming to an end. Or that the ending made me sad.

This started when the software company I work for was bought out at the beginning of the year. Most of us kept our jobs. And at first, we were even cautiously optimistic.

That optimism has since faded. It’s now clear that the new company operates very differently. The old company, the one I joined right after college, with people I’ve worked with for 18 years, is gone.

Oh, some of the people remain. But it’s not the same. We all know it. I just didn’t want to admit it.

Because even though things were far from perfect, it’s hard to see the end of something that’s been part of your life for that long. It’s easier to eat instead.

Of course, easier doesn’t always mean better. I know this is true in relation to food and emotions, but it can still be tempting.

The interesting thing, though, is that if you can make yourself go deep, figure out what’s going on, and allow yourself to experience the emotion – it gets easier. You’ve faced the worst. Now you can move on.

In my case, that means allowing myself to grieve for what I no longer have. I haven’t just lost the company, but also a vision of where I want to be next year. And then, once I’ve grieved, I need to figure out how to move forward.

When I do this, I find that I’m less tempted to eat for emotional reasons, or to eat mindlessly. I can pay attention and enjoy the food again.

I can also pick what I want to eat for my own nourishment and pleasure, not to stuff down feelings. And I have to say, it’s good to be back on the mindful eating path.

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