As we head into election day and the beginning of what some are calling the darkest days of Covid-19, it would be good to be prepared so we don't overeat. These stressful events can amplify our day to day worries making decision fatigue even more apparent than during "normal times". A food trance or a covid kitchen meltdown which is what a recent friend called it, is when everything looks good in the kitchen, and the snack foods are more tempting than ever. it usually occurs after nightfall. Maybe the work of the day has kept you busy? The efforts for planning and preparing the dinner meal is completed. You have cleaned up and now it is time to relax. This is when for many of my clients a food trance tends to set in. As the evening quiet returns to your space, a small voice in our minds can start to awake. Feed me is what it says to some. For others, the trance is a dance which is outside space and time. It is like brushing your teeth, the cabinet opens and the chips come out and we bring them to the couch. The chips may or may not taste great, you may or may not be hungry but the eating feels good. How do we begin to notice that we are in this food trance and find a way to enjoy our evening without food?
Starting a practice of breathing and noticing our thoughts is one method to start to become aware of our personal stories that we tell ourselves and how this impacts our behaviors with eating. When we are physically busy or our minds are busy during the day we may be eating because we feel physical hunger.
To find a space for opening awareness try practicing a daily meditation either once a day or maybe in 3 shorter periods. This can be informal where you breathe in and out through your nose and just pay attention to your breath. As you feel your body starting to relax, imagine you are sitting in the most beautiful place or feel your body melting into the ground beneath you. If you get distracted, just come back to noticing your breath. It is in these relaxing breaths where you may start to recognize a story which you regularly tell yourself. It may be a worry about your child, or work, our greater society and issues with the election or covid. It is ok to just notice those thoughts and not judge yourself. At this point, we are practicing being with our breathe. As you begin a breathe practice, it helps to journal afterwards about your thoughts which came up or what images you may remember. This is just a snippet of work you can do to release you from a kitchen meltdown. You see, after practicing your breath work, you should be able to go to this place of relaxation more easily. You may find that you are feeling whole, satisfied and not driven to open the cabinets. If you start to sense your autopilot is sending you into the kitchen to open a bag of chips, take a deep breath. Find your breath and confirm your interest in food. Sometimes we are hungry and really need a snack. Other evenings we are feeling bored, anxious, or not feeling anything and the food is lulling us. With more awareness you can attend to these moments and notice if you want and need food. You can then slow down and make a small bowl to share while sitting at a table. Or you may decide to take a shower, meet a friend on zoom, read a book or drink a hot tea. There are no perfect nights or perfect eaters. But being aware of our behaviors can give us power.