As I continued to consider how to live with my weight loss, I began the Mindful Eating course in the Ten Percent Happier App. It is led by Judson Brewer, a psychiatrist who focuses on using mindfulness techniques to break habits and addictions.
Brewer uses a particular kind of meditation called a body scan. You move your attention through each part of your body in a methodical way, aware of any sensations you feel. If your mind wanders, you bring it gently back to the body. Brewer’s idea is that by honing your focus in this way, you can, when cravings strike, catch yourself before you dive into the habit loop of mindless eating. His TED Talk is a good introduction to his approach to breaking habits.
I installed his Eat Right Now app and am working through the 22 -week weight loss course. It offers 15-minute modules each day that work through the concepts he outlines in the talk with a focus on eating. (He also has a smoking cessation app.) The app includes interactive tools including a stress test and want-o-meter. I have explored them but haven’t had a chance to use them on a regular basis.
One of the activities in the course is the raisin challenge. I’ve done it before in a couple different workshops, and it can seem silly. (Dan Harris notes his own sense of silliness even as he and Jud work through it; his skepticism is part of the reason I like him and his app so much.) The scenario is that you are a Martian who is given a raisin. You know it is edible but before you eat it, you need to prepare a report for your bosses. So, you take your time using all your senses to get to know this item before ultimately putting it in your mouth and eating it slowly.
One observation Brewer makes that I hadn’t heard before is to take the time to notice how your arm, elbow and hand all work together without thought to get that raisin to your mouth. You literally don’t have to think about it but when you do, it’s pretty amazing to consider how your body works without your mind. Brewer talks about it here as part of a teacher training course. He uses a great term I hadn’t heard before: craveogenic. I love listening to him talk about his relationship with specific foods and whether they lead to cravings or not.