The other day I was driving on the freeway and when I looked down to check my speed, I was shocked to see that the dial for my speedometer was all the way to the right at 120 mph. I had just merged from the onramp and knew that I was only going around speed limit, but for a second I panicked. “Is there anything else connected to the speedometer that will go haywire?” “How will I know how fast I’m going?” “What if I get pulled over for speeding even when I didn’t mean to and didn’t get a chance to have my car looked at by a mechanic?”
As I was driving, I kept checking the speedometer, but it stayed at 120mph (my car’s max) the entire time. Instead of waiting for it to miraculously fix itself, I started feeling the speed–feeling the sensations that I get when I drive faster or over the speed limit. I’ve had my car for 11 years, so I’ve come to know it well and notice when things are slightly off. I began to rely on my experience with my car to give me an idea of my speed.
During this mindful ride, I came to think about mindful eating. When we’re used to eating so many packaged or processed foods and counting calories, it can feel off to eat whole foods that don’t have a Nutrition Facts Label. We think, “How can I know how much to eat?” or “How will I know when to stop?”.
You’ve been with your body for many years. You’ve had experiences together. You can sense when things are off–when you’re emotionally unsettled, when you’re overtired, when you’re unfulfilled. You may, however, not have the experience of eating together. When your body is chowing down, you may be paying more attention to the TV. You may let your mouth chew while you drive, read a book, or zone out.
It seems like it would be easier to have a Full-O-Meter where you can see your body filling up on the food you’re eating and have an automatic shut-off that puts the food away when your body has had enough. Just like filling your car with gas.
I don’t want you to be satisfied with the alluring but superficial notion of a Full-O-Meter. I don’t want you to just pass time in your body; I want you to spend it deliberately, being aware of the nuances of your energy, hunger, emotions, thoughts. I want you to eat without counting calories, without following rules, without waiting for that outside cue to tell you to stop.
Continuation of the story: I eventually exited the freeway and found that after restarting my car, my speedometer was all better and I could once again drive mindlessly if I wanted to.
How will your story continue? It’s your choice.