I’ve come to understand that mindful eating is what I do when I make the decision to eat something, rather than just mindlessly consuming it.
In my teens and twenties, I noticed it was okay for a woman to talk about diets, her weight, and her food consumption, but it was a bit weird for a man to do the same. Things have changed somewhat, but I still feel, as a man, I’m supposed to have everything under control. I don’t know if this is chauvinistic, but this is how I feel.
Two years ago at Christmas time, I went a little overboard enjoying too many decadent treats and special foods of the season. By the first week of January, I had gained nine and a half pounds. I felt bloated, and my clothes were tight. I couldn’t even get into some of my pants. Not only did I not feel good because of the bloating and tight clothes, but I felt discouraged and somewhat depressed too.
Whenever I have a problem, I look at ways to solve it, so this was no different. I realized I usually didn’t eat just one or two sweets. Once I had a couple, I wanted more and more and more.
I remembered meeting an interesting guy named Barry at a conference I attended in October of 2013. He told me he had decided to go ‘sugar-free’, and it had changed his life. He said he was no longer on the up and down roller coaster, the way he’d been before when he’d crave candy bars and chomp several of them down when he felt low.
I decided it was time for me to become sugar-free too. I choose to avoid refined sugars completely and back off on naturally sweet foods like pineapple, carrots, and corn. The first thing I noticed was that sugar was hiding in so many foods like ketchup, spaghetti sauce, soups, pre-prepared frozen foods and more. As a result, I decided to avoid most processed foods. Here are the five most obvious personal changes I noticed.
My skin: I had a small rash on my face which I had asked my doctor about several times. Each time he gave me an ointment that only made the rash a little less noticeable, next thing I knew it was back again. After going sugar-free, I noticed that rash completely disappeared.
The afternoon lull: My wife would say, why do you eat a meal before eating a meal? She meant that I would seem to become ravenous in the late afternoon. I say ‘seem,’ because it wasn’t that I felt super hungry, I just felt the need to eat. And looking back, I realize I would usually choose something that would raise my blood sugar. The roller coaster that Barry talked about has left my life.
Bloating: A bunch of cookies or cake would make me feel horrible later. I usually didn’t admit this fact to myself, but when I ditched stuff like this out of my diet, I realized that bloated feeling was gone.
Hair loss: My hair had been thinning, and my scalp was itchy. Only about a week into being sugar-free, I noticed the itchiness and thinning stopped. I don’t know if this happens with other people, but I sure noticed a big difference.
Improved sleep: I never expected this. Now I practically never have trouble falling asleep and almost always sleep through the entire night. I also sleep much more soundly than before. I always thought caffeine was responsible for keeping me awake at times, but it doesn’t seem to have as much of an effect as I thought.
So I decided to see how long since I made the lifestyle change to sugar-free and it turns out I’m at 700 days. That’s exactly 100 weeks. What a great reason to celebrate.
My mindset about sugar and sweets is now completely different. 95 percent of the time I honestly don’t want that sweet taste, and if I do have something sweet, it’s because I make the deliberate decision to eat it.
I had never heard of mindful eating, but I’ve come to understand that mindful eating is what I do when I make the decision to eat something, rather than just mindlessly consuming it. Now I truly taste and enjoy food much more than ever before. And I eat less too.
These days I feel so great without refined sugar, I feel a little sorry for those who haven’t discovered this better way of life. Oh, and now I’ve come to believe that wanting to be in control isn’t connected to being a man, it’s just the way I am as a person. And one more thing; I have no problem talking about what I eat with anyone.
Photo: Flickr/ mandy lackey