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BONUS: Mindful Eating for HSPs: What it is and how to practice
Episode 823rd November 2022 • Sensitivity Rising • Tonya Rothe
00:00:00 00:11:44

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The holiday season brings a lot of extra to our lives leaving us with less energy and more overwhelm than usual as Highly Sensitive People.

Extra stress, extra overwhelm and expectations, extra fun and joy but also extra food and extra sugar.

We have enough to manage this time of year as HSPs without literally adding more to our plates.

*This practice was originally shared on the Highly Sensitive Healing Podcast.

Download your FREE Mindful Eating in 8 Simple Steps HERE


Tonya Rothe 0:00

For many of us, the holidays bring a lot of extra to our lives, extra stress, extra overwhelm and expectations, extra fun and joy, but also extra food and extra sugar. We have enough to manage this time of year as HSPs without literally adding more to our plates. Today we're talking about mindful eating. And we'll also do a short mindfulness eating practice at the end of this episode to get you started if this concept is new to you. Welcome to the sensitivity rising podcast where sensitive people learn how to turn down the noise and tune into their inner guidance systems.

Welcome Friends, Tonya here. And today we're talking about mindful eating. So to fully experience everything this episode has to offer, you may want to listen to it at home or in another place where you feel at ease. And where you have access to a piece of food. Nothing elaborate or complicated as needed, just a small piece of fruit we'll do. First, let me say that mindful eating isn't about any sort of diet culture. And it's not about shaming anyone for what they choose to eat. It's simply about what we eat, and how we eat it, and how this affects not only our physical bodies, but our highly sensitive nervous system as well as our mental and spiritual health. Take sugar for example, we all know that we should limit the sugar in our diets. But did you also know that sugar affects our moods, it can impair our memory and decision making skills, as well as weakening our ability to handle stress and that it's even linked to an increased risk of depression. At this time of year, at least in the US, sugar is everywhere. It's almost impossible to avoid as HSPs many of us are already sensitive to stimulants like caffeine. And sugar works in a similar way. Our brains continuously rewire themselves through the process of neuroplasticity. And it works on a kind of reward system. So when we repeatedly activate the reward pathway by eating lots of sugary foods, for example, this causes the brain to adapt to frequent stimulation, leading to a sort of tolerance. This means we need to eat more and more to get the same rewarding feeling. So mindful eating is a wonderful practice that anyone can benefit from with anything that we consume. Sugar is just one example. So what is mindful eating, the Harvard School of Public Health explains it best. Mindful eating focuses on your eating experiences, body related sensations, and thoughts and feelings about food with a heightened awareness. And also without placing any judgment. Close attention is paid to the food chosen, and what your internal and external physical responses are, and how you react to those responses. Mindful eating is guided by four aspects, what to eat, why we eat, what we eat, how much to eat, and how to eat it. So some things to consider would be where the food came from, how it was prepared, and who prepared it. Noticing how the food looks, how it tastes and smells and feels in our bodies as we eat it. acknowledging how our body feels after eating the meal, expressing gratitude for that meal, maybe practicing deep breathing or meditation before or after your meal. And also reflecting on how our food choices affect our local and global environment. In the book, savor mindful eating mindful life. World renowned Zen master tick not Han and Harvard nutritionist, Dr. Lillian Jiang, give us seven simple practices of mindful eating. Number one is honor the food. Acknowledge where the food was grown and who prepared the meal. Eat without distractions to help deepen the eating experience. Number two is engage all senses. Notice the sounds, colors, smells, tastes and textures of the food and how you feel when eating it and pause periodically to engage the senses. Number three is serve in modest portions. This can help to avoid over eating and food waste. Use a dinner plate that's no larger than Nine inches across, and fill it only once. Number four is savor small bites and Chew Thoroughly. These practices can help slow down the meal and help you to fully experience the foods flavors. Number five is to eat slowly to avoid over eating. And if you eat slowly, you're more likely to recognize when you're feeling satisfied, or when you're about 80% full and then you can stop eating. Number six is Don't skip meals going too long without eating can increase the risk of strong hunger, which may then lead to the quickest and easiest food choice, and not always the most healthy one. So setting meals at around the same time each day as well as planning for enough time to enjoy a meal or snack can reduce these risks. And number seven is eat a plant based diet for your health and for the planet. Consider the long term effects of eating certain foods. Processed meat and saturated fat, as we know are associated with an increased risk of things like colon cancer and heart disease. And production of animal based foods like meat and dairy takes a heavier toll on our environment than plant based foods do. So let's do a mindfulness eating practice together now and have your food within reach. We'll begin by connecting to our breath and body. Just feeling our feet grounding to the earth beneath us. And just start to notice noticing any thoughts, sensations or emotions that you're experiencing? Tuning in more now to any sensations that you may be feeling. Are you hungry or thirsty? Maybe you just finished a meal, maybe what are you hungry or thirsty for and just taking a moment to listen and notice without any judgment to what our body and not our mind may be asking for. Pick up your food now. And imagine that you're seeing it for the first time. Noticing the shape, color, size, texture, the weight of it resting in your hand in envision all of the things that needed to take place for this food to be here with you now. The earth it grew in the tree it grew on the water sun, the farmer and the field workers who grew picked and shipped to the food. The grocery clerks who placed it on the shelves so you could bring it home to enjoy. Hold the food between your fingers now is the surface rough or smooth. Roll it around in your hand. Just notice anything that comes up for you as you continue to breathe and be fully present in this moment. Bring the food to your nose now and just smell it with full awareness. Notice of any memories or sensations arise in your body is your body responding to its presence with a digestive response simply from smelling and holding it with a slow awareness now bring the food to your lips and place it into your mouth, but without chewing or swallowing it. Just allow it to be in your mouth. Roll it around to different parts of your mouth and your tongue. Noticing the flavor and texture. Notice the physical sensations within your body, especially your mouth and your belly. And continue to observe your breath as you just explore what it's like for you to have this food in your mouth without chewing or swallowing it yet. Now very slowly begin to chew this piece of food and notice the parts of your mouth that are involved in chewing. Notice the flavor notice the change of texture. Notice any sounds that the food makes as you continue to notice the sensations and flavor. When you're ready, swallow the food and simply observe the path that it follows now from your mouth, down your throat and into your stomach. noticed any taste that may linger in your mouth and reconnecting to your body and your breath as you bring more awareness to this moment and how you're feeling as we end this practice.

mindful eating is not a diet. It's about gratitude, consciousness, listening to our bodies, having compassion for ourselves, compassion for our environment and other living beings. Remember that simple does not always mean easy. Changing our habits takes time, patience and persistence. Of course, in our busy lives, it's not possible to always eat this way. But what if we tried to begin just one meal a day in this way? This is my offer to you. Set aside just two minutes before one meal of your choice each day for this practice. Notice if you observe any changes in how you feel during that meal in comparison with the others. And notice that one small change might start to have a ripple effect on everything else in your orbit that day. If you try this practice, please reach out and let me know how it went for you. I'd love to know. Thank you for spending time with us on the sensitivity rising podcast. Please feel free to reach out to us with questions or topic ideas you'd like to learn more about. New episodes are now released every other Wednesday on a biweekly schedule. And if you're enjoying the podcast, please take a moment to leave a review and share it with others. You can subscribe for free wherever you listen to podcasts. And you can also join us on YouTube. You'll find all the info and links in the show notes and we'll see you next time.