The Real Food Real Beauty group that I facilitate was working on mindful eating and we were talking about taking time for mindful eating experiences at meals. Not as easy as it sounds, as many of you know. Distractions abound, and it’s easy to forget that you want to eat mindfully, let alone that you’re eating at all. It’s so darn easy for eating to become mindless, isn’t it? Soon, you’re faced with an empty plate or wrapper and you wonder: Where did it all go? Did I actually eat that? Did I eat all of that? The bummer here is not how much was eaten necessarily, but not experiencing the eating, and possibly feeling like crap about it later. How, I wondered, could my group experiment with remembering to eat mindfully, with enjoying the food, but also not judging themselves for eating and enjoying it!?
I came up with the idea of making a meal buddy. A meal buddy is a crafted totem, or symbol that serves as a reminder at mealtime to be aware of your food and your lovely self. It can help remind you to fully taste your food and enjoy it, or even to recognize that you’re not! A meal buddy is for compassionate awareness, not policing. A meal buddy would never “say” anything mean or derogatory, but instead support you in the eating the experience. A meal buddy can remind you to ask yourself how hungry you are, and when to stop when you’re starting to feel full and satisfied.
Ok, ok, I realize what this may sound like—a rock can help me to be more compassionate? C’mon, Sibel, have you completely lost it? Seriously, it may sound way out or woo woo, but we all have that voice in our head right? The inner critic who loves to bash us around? Something that is so essential is to start developing that other voice more. Yeah, that other voice. You have one. It’s just that we tend to give the inner critic WAY more air time than the loving compassionate wise voice that’s in there. The purpose of the meal buddy is to be a reminder to exercise the muscle that is the other voice. Yes, for a pretty specific situation, but let’s start somewhere! This is part of how creativity + intuitive and mindful eating = a powerful combination.
How do you make a meal buddy?
We used flat, smooth stones and drew faces or wrote inspirational words on the surface of the stone with permanent markers. You can use paint markers, or acrylics also. Then, if desired, embellish your buddy with sparkles, sequins, feathers, or whatever!
Remember Pet Rocks? If you’re too young to remember, yes, it really was a thing, and I had one! So, maybe coming from my days as a proud Pet Rock owner, I decided the stones would work the best for this activity. You can go hunting for the perfect stone, or find one at a garden store, or possibly a craft store. You can use whatever other material works for you, of course.
While the group was working on creating their meal buddies, I could tell that something wonderful was happening. They were allowing their most loving and compassionate selves to show up. As silly as it may sound, they infused this love and compassion into their creations, encapsulating the true meaning of “buddy” into their stones. The process alone was meaningful.
Whatever it takes to create a different kind of eating space for yourself, do it. Maybe it’s about lighting a candle, saying a blessing for your meal, or writing down your intention for the meal. It could be how you set the table, or prepare the meal. Maybe you need to be aware of your breath or your posture. Or, perhaps, it’s bringing a buddy to your meal. What are your thoughts about this? What helps you to create a mindful eating experience?
Journal Prompt: When I think of mindful eating I______________
Be gentle with yourself. Always. And know that you are loved.