Halloween has just passed and this weekend we shift the clocks back one hour, the real beginning of the dark and cold season that begs soothing and relief with comfort foods. Later this month is the Thanksgiving feast and soon to follow, holiday parties galore. With the change in season, decreased opportunity for outdoor exercise and recreation, and the eating opportunities that abound, all of us easily have the potential to be thrown off track in terms of healthy eating and exercise, the cornerstones of wellness. I for one am usually good for a few pounds of weight gain over the winter season of hibernation that I fortunately shed in the spring and summer.
Despite wonderful breakthroughs in science, technology and medicine that allow more sophisticated treatments of many diseases, the important paradigm shift in healthcare delivery is the prevention of illness. In terms of averting sickness, healthy eating habits are essential. When it comes down to eating, I recommend being mindful, attentive, and conscientious.
The following paragraph is a “mantra” that captures the essence of my book Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship With Food. It can be used as a general template or modified to suit your individual needs. If you heed these words carefully, it is likely that you will experience a kick forward on your journey of becoming an enlightened eater with an improved relationship with food.
“I will attempt to eat mindfully and conscientiously, with purpose, attention and focus, recognizing that the primary goal of eating is to fuel myself with quality foods that will promote my health and wellness and avoid preventable diseases. I recognize that eating can be a highly rewarding and pleasurable activity, and as such, has the potential to be abused. I will make every effort to achieve a balance between the pleasure-seeking aspects of eating and the need for disciplined restraint. I will try to avoid eating when I am not hungry and when certain emotional states of mind give me the false sense of hunger. I recognize that this hunger, although perhaps soothed by eating under these circumstances, in reality represents an emotional need that should instead be addressed by an alternative and more appropriate behavior than eating. However, if I must succumb to the desire to eat for emotional reasons, I will make every effort to eat foods that will not cause me to feel guilt or regret, and will promote my good health and wellness.”
Andrew Siegel, M.D.