Food, Glorious Food!
My Mindfulness Journey with Dietary Intolerances
Author and mindfulness teacher Catherine G Lucas shares her experience
Becoming gluten, dairy, yeast and sugar-free has been a journey. Sometimes it has been uphill with a strong head wind in my face. Other times, I’ve been propelled forwards, the wind to my back.
It’s a personal journey, a unique journey, and I guess it has to be for each of us. Even now, there are times when I have to be careful, times when I know I could end up eating something that will make me feel unwell. There are times when I do. Luckily, fairly rare occasions. Nearly always when stress levels peak. My mindfulness practice has been a huge help.
Mindfulness has been shown to help cope with stress, leading to ‘a 58%reduction in anxiety levels and 40% reduction in stress’ according to the Mental Health Foundation.What the research figures don’t tell you is that being gluten-free or dairy-free or anything-free is all about kindness, self-compassion. The journey is essentially one of moving from self-harm to self-care. As our awareness grows, through our mindfulness practice, so too inevitably does our ability to be kind to ourselves, to our bodies.
A breakthrough came for me when I realised it wasn’t about depriving myself of anything but rather nourishing and nurturing myself with all sorts of delicious, healthy alternatives. If we feel at all deprived, the journey is simply an uphill struggle and we won’t achieve what we’re hoping to.
For every food I needed to cut out, in time I’ve worked out wonderful substitutes. From being someone who had never so much as baked a cake, I’ve gone to being known amongst friends for my various tasty breads, cakes and puddings, all totally gluten, dairy, sugar and yeast-free.
But it’s not about the recipes. It’s about bringing our awareness to the journey, to the kinds of situations that might trigger us, where we might slip up. And bringing in self-compassion if we do. A shared supper where there will probably be all manner of puddings laden with sugar, dairy and/or gluten is the kind of situation where I take along something I caneat.
It’s about acknowledging, with that same compassion, that, as is the case for me, I’m dealing with an addiction. It takes the tiniest bit of sugar for me to be right back there, hooked and craving. It won’t surprise you to hear that mindfulness is being used increasingly to help those struggling with addiction. Of the two books I’ve written for the Sheldon Press Mindfulness Series, one is on addiction recovery.
So the journey continues and I’m delighted to have this opportunity to support you on yours, to share what I’ve learnt, how mindfulness and kindfulness help. May the journey to healthy eating for us all be one where, rather than battling against a head wind, a warm breeze gently caresses our skin.
Cheltenham Holistic Health Centre
Kindfulness & Nutrition
A one-day mindfulness retreat
exploring our patterns around food
Sunday 21 October 2018
Are you coping with food sensitivities or allergies? Candida or diabetes? Do you need to avoid certain foods for health reasons but struggle to do so?
Join us for this one-day Kindfulness retreat. We’ll explore ways of self-nurturing, moving from a sense of denial to feeling nourished on every level.
An essential aspect of mindfulness is kindness and compassion, in this case compassion towards ourselves. As we grow in self-awareness and self-compassion, so we move more easily through our food challenges.
The day is suitable for mindfulness beginners as well as more experienced practitioners. For bookings, please contact Cheltenham Holistic Health Centre – £60 for the day; £50 for CHHC clients. Any queries do get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please bring on the day
- a pillow and some sort of a throw, shawl or blanket as one of the mindfulness practices, the body scan, involves lying down.
- something for a shared vegetarian lunch.
Catherine G Lucas has been teaching mindfulness since qualifying as a mindfulness trainer in 2007. She has taught many groups, including NHS therapists and soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Catherine is also the author of four books, her two most recent in the Sheldon Press Mindfulness Series.
On this one-day retreat she brings her personal experience of thriving on a diet that is gluten, dairy, sugar and yeast free.
“I couldn’t have achieved this without the self-awareness that my mindfulness practice brings. If I slip up occasionally, it’s kindness and compassion towards myself that gets me right back on track. For me, it’s about moving from self-harm to self-care, from foods that harm me to foods that nourish and nurture me.”