Mindful eating, like all forms of mindfulness, is about being in the present moment. Paying attention to what’s happening now.
Even if you have a goal for the future, you can’t focus only on that because you’ll stumble where you are.
Similarly, dwelling in the past can cause problems. It can keep you stuck in old habits and thought patterns… even if they’re not ones you want to keep.
At the same time, I don’t think you should ignore the past completely. Because only by looking back can you see how far you’ve come.
I notice this when I’m out hiking. After a while of putting one foot in front of the other, it can all blur together. It feels like I’m not getting anywhere.
But if I come to a break in the trees and look back, I can see that I really have made progress.
You might also notice this from a mindful eating perspective… that it can feel like you’re taking all these steps but aren’t getting very far. It can be discouraging.
But here are a few things you can consider to see if you spot a difference from the way things were before.
For instance, do you notice hunger more now? Do you find yourself asking more often if you feel hungry before eating? Maybe this is something you never used to consider, but now you ask the question.
Or maybe you used to want certain foods, but once you started paying attention to eating them, you realized they didn’t taste as good as you thought. Or your body doesn’t feel very good after eating them. So now you don’t have them as much.
You could also think about your energy. Has that improved? Are you able to do more now without getting tired?
And what about the way you think about food? Maybe you used to place a lot of moral judgment on it, to classify it as good or bad. Has that shifted, so you don’t feel guilty for eating the “bad” food?
Positive changes in any of these areas are something to celebrate. But you might not even notice them if you don’t pause to take stock.
This came home to me last week when I told someone I don’t crave candy anymore, or feel called by the sweets in the checkout aisle. It’s something I don’t often think about, because it’s been so long since I felt those things – 15 years now.
But her amazement about this reminded me I shouldn’t take it for granted. Or forget that it wasn’t always this way.
So I invite you, too, to take a minute to look back and see how far you’ve come.
Remember, any move in the direction you want to go is important to acknowledge. And then celebrate it – and yourself!