Cheat days. Aggressive decisions. Deprived meal plans. Diet. This is how we ‘think’ we can live healthy but it’s quite the contrary! I have had days when I have gone 3000 calories plus as if I will never see food again and even eaten desserts secretly in my room so that nobody watches or judges me!
Clearly, it did not work but it took me years to go back and forth till I realized that I needed to go deep inside and know my truth. Today I am a ‘recovered extreme indulger’ and can safely say ‘mindful indulgence’ is an auto-pilot mode in my system.
Indulging mindfully feels like freedom – a liberation of dropping those excess thoughts of guilt, counting calories and shame that can be invested in something more meaningful. So, let us discover mindful indulgence with a 2-step process – first how to tune into mindfulness and then how to make those mindful choices much easier.
Step 1: Tune into mindfulness
- Drop cheat days: As long as you have those, you will not ever believe you can indulge mindfully. It will be a constant combination of deprived meals and then eating as if food won’t be served next day!
- Stop denying the desire: Accept and embrace this is what you feel like eating. Then we can resolve it later with baby steps and with better choices.
- No aggressive goals: When we do not tune into who we really are, we just make aggressive plans that are not tailored for us! We don’t feel good and that means we are against the flow.
- Talk to someone: We are so shameful about our eating habits that we don’t want to even share with anyone. Sure, I understand that but why not go to a professional? Most of the time they have felt this before in their own journey.
Step 2: Making mindful choices
- Know your cravings: Is it a salt craving or sweet craving? Accept it so we can prepare for it. Just because your friend doesn’t have it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be having it either. We all have inherent cravings and somethings that our body desires, so know your cravings.
- Find better choices: If it is ‘namkeen’ you crave, you can try rock salt. Baked sweet potato with rock or pink salt can do the same job as French fries! Rock salt adds a different taste and additional flavour to your food. This can be less harmful to your body. If it is sweet, make a sweet dish with stevia or jaggery. As both are natural options, they are again a better choice.
- Plan indulgences ahead: I saw this as a big bonus to have better choices ready! When I knew that a Saturday night is on its way, I planned my sweet dishes before hand and tried to keep a better option handy. If I knew I will crave salt, then I checked if I had pink salt at home so that I could cook up something! We prepare for our goals, then why not this?
- Checking in with yourself: Part of mindful indulgence is checking with yourself – do I really crave this or can I let it go? If I crave it then how much of it and what’s the best replacement? There are times replacements won’t work and that is okay. However, when we take some time to deep breathe, check in with ourselves and sip a little water, chances are we make better decisions.
- Celebrate mindful indulgences: As we change this habit, we might need a little pat on our back right? If you have made better replacements a part of your routine, do a little dance for yourself or write a little congratulatory note to yourself. Every good habit paves the path for the next one till it becomes a lifestyle.
- Enjoy your indulgences: Once we have decided to go ahead and have something, then we need to let it go completely and enjoy it. Only when you know you are going overboard again, stop and go back to your inner work. We want to eventually move to mindful indulgences as an auto-pilot but we will face some bumps along the way.
Indulging mindfully has never been easier according to me. There was a time we didn’t even have access or idea of how to find replacements. Today, it is a click away! It can easily be a guilt free lifestyle and as I mentioned, the taste of this freedom will leave you craving for more.
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