Ease

 
Improving your relationship with food: Adding ease to your day of eating, losing food fears and seeing the relationship with stress and our eating habits | Brownble
 

Every time I sit down to write one of our posts and episodes for what we’ve informally called the little word series, I think of 2 or 3 more I’d love to talk about. I can now confidently say that this series of posts and episodes will definitely be back after we’re done with the last two I had in mind for this time around. We’ve already talked about patience, excess, change, fear, and one of my favorites, labels, and we’ve got just two more to go. Today, we’ll be talking about what has possibly been denied, repressed and pushed back in modern society and in our lives and formative years in the biggest way, and that is the pursuit of ease. Ease will be our little word for today as we discuss eating, our stress levels, time, mindfulness and the emotional aspects of ourselves that have an impact on the way we eat, the choices we make and our general well-being.

Is it just me or is anyone else noticing a serious busyness epidemic in our world today? “Busy” has become the new “fine” when we ask people how they are, not as a complaint, but more often than not as a little badge of honor. Everywhere we turn, and especially in social media, it’s all about the hustle, the getting things done, the systems and ways in which we can do more, using time to an inch of its life. In last week’s podcast episode I answered a listener question from one of our Sams (our gender-neutral pseudonym for all our listeners and readers who send us questions). Sam had asked how Carlos and I manage to have Brownble up and running with its constant flow of content that is released weekly AND also have our day jobs. You can listen back to last week’s episode to hear my full answer, which had mostly to do with getting organized and sticking to the plan so it becomes a habit (especially in terms of the content we create). I mentioned the fact that we also prioritize our family, social engagements, and time to spend together. I also mentioned the importance of presence and mindfulness in whatever it is we’re doing so that we can really enjoy it and focus on it. I failed to mention however, one very important thing that is always present throughout our week, especially in my case (Carlos is way more “go go go” than I am): there is always space for down time. In fact it’s always written in my planner with the drawing of a bright orange teacup next to the words “break + me time”. What does this “break + me time” entail for me? Getting cozy in my reading chair with a cup of coffee or tea and the book I’m reading tops the list for sure, but it also includes watching a movie I love, journaling, relaxing a bit while I listen to a podcast or watch a youtube video I have bookmarked. It can include my mindfulness practice but usually that has its very own space and time. I know if you have a tight schedule you might think “well that’s just great, that’s yet another thing I need to add to my schedule”, but in truth, these moments are the ones that give us the peace of mind to be able to really get work done at a later time. Kind of like the way a vacation makes you extra productive at work when you get back. All this to say, that even I, who makes sure to have moments like these every day, even if for just a few minutes, forgot to mention it when someone asked me about productivity.

We’ve internalized this idea of busyness and hustle as such a point of pride that sometimes we don’t even realize we’re doing so. I’m worlds away from where I was with this a few years ago (thanks mostly to my mindfulness practice and my many attempts to let go of perfectionism), but I still need to remind myself to slow down sometimes. It’s that slowing down process, that act of defying our over-productive side of ourselves and asking a different question which we’ll be talking about today. This specific question happens to be our little mantra for this week, and I’ve divided it in two different parts for you to do a bit of digging as homework for the next few days:

“How can I make this easier on myself?”

“How can I do this with more ease?”

I’m not sure if this is only me, but going from that busy-go-go-go-get-more-done frame of mind to stopping and resting was as difficult as telling an overly anxious person to stop worrying about something. It was just too hard! One thing that really worked amazingly well for me was going through all the tasks I was doing and asking myself “how can I make this easier on myself?”, “how can I do this with more ease?”.

When these are the questions that become habits, you find yourself making one dish less than you had planned for a dinner party you’re throwing, making the food perfectly sufficient but not Henry the VIII feast style. You find yourself getting a paper and a pencil and writing out a simple list instead of adding another productivity app on your phone that keeps you glued to it yet again. You find yourself tidying up a little bit every day instead of having 5 hour cleaning sessions that leave you exhausted. Instead of making these extremely elaborate meals after a long day at work you find yourself, cooking something simple you truly feel like eating, and getting so much more comfort in the fact that you respected your energy and your limits. When doing a project for work or for school you take it easy on yourself, doing the best you can, without the expectation that you need to be the best in show, you just have to show up.

 
Improving your relationship with food: Adding ease to your day of eating, losing food fears and seeing the relationship with stress and our eating habits | Brownble | Intuitive eating and veganism
 

Ease and food

If there’s an underlying theme here at the Brownble blog and podcast it’s the fact that food occupies a big space in our lives, and it does so in two different ways. Everything that goes on in the way we live and how we live, affects the way we eat and the food choices we make, whether we’re mindful or mindless when eating, whether eating is a source of pleasure and delight or guilt, shame, worry or perfectionism. The second way in which eating is incredibly present in the way we live is the fact that the way we eat can easily be a reflection of how we’re doing everything else in our lives. Another way of looking at it, is that we can look at our life and see how the way we do things is also appearing in the way we eat and relate to food, or we can tackle this issue the opposite way, we can look at the way we’re eating and from there begin to see what could be going on in our personal lives that might be causing us pain, stress or discomfort.

Nothing has changed my life personally as much as going through my own food journey and seeing how much excess, perfectionism and extremes were present in my life. I thought it was my food that needed fixing, but it turned out to be the fact that I could look at food and my eating habits as a mirror, reflecting back the other aspects of my life and what was going on. I had taken the ease and delight out of eating by adding rigidity, deprivation, rules and perfectionism on one side, which then made me stumble right into a hole of shame and excess because I couldn’t take the control any longer. Because of the fact that there was no ease, now flow, no simplicity, there was no gray area. I thought it was my food intake that needed to be controlled, but in fact the food was just the automatic way of doing things because that’s the way I was doing everything else. I would overcompensate for mistakes made, I would complicate everything from a recipe to a new course we were making, to a personal project, to the way I exercised, to the classes I planned for my students. Everything was in the extreme. Everything was attached to busyness and perfectionism. Everything was either a perfect pearly white, or the pitch black that followed when I couldn’t hold on any longer. When I came across some of the tools that have helped me so much in my journey with food (check out some of these amazing peeps here, here, here and here ), I started to notice that my eating didn’t need controlling or fixing, it was just the reflection of everything else.

This is where our little mantra for today comes really handy:

“How can I make this easier on myself?”

“How can I do this with more ease?”

 
Improving your relationship with food: Adding ease to your day of eating, losing food fears and seeing the relationship with stress and our eating habits | Brownble
 

Staying true to you

It can be so hard to tackle this on when we live in the age of fear-mongering, health and eating purity, perfectionism and the yellow brick road to hustle. When we see endless videos being recommended to us on the topic of time management and being more productive, or the 5 things top leaders of the world do every day, we can feel embarrassed for our need for ease, and in my case, it was doing things with ease that was truly missing. It was what truly helped changed things around both in my life and in my relationship with food.

Ease doesn’t mean slacking off, being lazy, or even doing less (although sometimes that’s needed a little too), it’s really a mindset. The mindset of doing things with presence of mind, painting ease over what we’re doing with a brush. When ease starts becoming a habit, we suddenly start making plans in a different way, we schedule one thing for an evening instead of three and we do it and finish it with our full awareness, we ask for help when we’re not sure how something should be done, we opt for simple and practical and yes, that can sometimes include buying store-bought hummus or guacamole if it will make your life easier. We decide to include one topic instead of one main one and 3 secondary ones that will get us extra praise, when perhaps the one will be much more profound and important to dig into once you immerse yourself in it fully.

For me it meant letting go of external rules with food and practicing intuitive eating, which has ease and simplicity written all over it. It meant listening to my body and what it wanted in terms of movement. It meant answering an email a day instead of 50 occupying half a Saturday leaving me tired ad exhausted. It meant that sometimes I would have to write only half of the post, leave it unfinished and come back to it later (if your head just exploded by the thought of that, you probably need that too). It meant that the way I planned classes for my students changed completely and they could feel it. With less activities and more time to practice a smaller number of them, their knowledge and use of what I was teaching had space to grow. It meant that sometimes our dinner was as simple as some pasta. It meant that when I planned a party or a dinner for friends one appetizer was plenty. It meant I could make plans with friends that were the simple sharing of a cup of coffee. It meant that I was saying no to things and social engagements that didn’t bring me joy or made my day harder, rescheduling for when they would fit in better. Even science has the term Occam’s Razor, a problem solving principle that states that the simplest solutions are more likely to be correct than the complex ones. By using the mantras “How can I make this easier on myself?” and “How can I do this with more ease?”, I was simplifying my life and getting so much space and time in between everything I was doing. By adding more ease and less fear to the way I was eating (as in less restriction, more listening to how I was feeling and less fear of foods that previous diets had deemed unhealthy), a lot more ease started trickling into the way I lived. Suddenly adding so much pressure on myself didn’t feel comfortable anymore. It went from being my default to me questioning it time and time again and eventually making some changes. Then, as I started noticing these changes unfold, I went beyond the plate, and started simplifying and doing things with more ease in my life, and surprise surprise, I in turn became more mindful when eating and things became so much easier, joyful and less associated with guilt.

 
Improving your relationship with food: Adding ease to your day of eating, losing food fears and seeing the relationship with stress and our eating habits | Brownble
 

This is why I left the word ease almost for last in our little word series, because it was perhaps one of the most important factors in changing my relationship with food, and it’s an ongoing quest of reminding myself:

“How can I make this easier on myself?”

“How can I do this with more ease?”

That’s your little homework for today. Ask yourself these questions for everything you do today, and see where it takes you. Rinse and repeat tomorrow and see where you are the next day.

Next week we’ll have our final instalment of The Little Words series (for now… more is coming in the future I can assure you!), and it’s a word we all love to talk about, it’s the word that brought us all together in this space: F-O-O-D. Stay tuned!


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