How to eat a raisin

One of the highlights of the conference I attended this past week was the “mindfulness of raisin” exercise which the presenter borrowed from Mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn. Kabat-Zinn, professor of medicine at Massachusetts University and who founded Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) uses it to give people a first taste of mindfulness meditation. It’s very simple.  Take just one raisin, hold it on the palm of your hand, look at it, touch it between finger and thumb, smell it, chew it with your teeth, taste it on your tongue and then …. finally  ….. swallow it. The exercise takes at least 5 minutes and my fellow attendees agreed that it was the tastiest raisin we’d ever had.

mindful raisin meditationThis exercise was particularly pertinent to me because over the past few weeks I’ve been having tummy issues. I won’t bore you with the details suffice to say that I’ve lost a few kilograms, I had a colonoscopy (clear) and now I am scheduled to see a dietician next week. I have IBS and need to follow a more restricted diet. I’m still working out what my tummy will tolerate but it clearly doesn’t like sugar and dairy for a start. Gluten is an obvious suspect (although I’m not sure). And then other food stuffs which are high in fermentable sugars. At the moment I’m trying to follow a low FODMAP diet but the trouble is that I get bored and so end up trying to eat normally again. I keep thinking that if  hunger is anything to go by, then I’m well on the road to recovery.

One thing I have noticed is that when I’m stressed and anxious then my digestion suffers. Being anxious about my eating certainly doesn’t help! So I’m trying to slow down a bit (not easy with two small children) and savour my food. At the time that things started going downhill, I was feeling really down — right about the time of my 45th birthday. A whole of issues seemed to overwhelm me at once. I was stressed about getting older and not having achieved half of what I would like to achieve. I was terribly frustrated with the demands of parenting small children and never having enough time for myself. I also quit therapy and we were stressed about money. Not to mention feeling the pressure at work and the acquired stress of worrying about my parents. My mom is not always in such good health and my dad, although retired, had a massive work project which was coming to a head.

A month later I’m feeling so much better. I do love my food and so even snacking on healthy things such as rice cakes and bananas and rooibos tea can be enjoyable. I’m certainly not depriving myself, which is why it’s a cruel irony that I should have lost weight whilst other people struggle to lose anything at all.

Today it’s also Leah’s turn to do Bakerman at school and so last night the house was full of the smell of Nutella and Marie biscuits. I should really have taken a picture of the biscuits beautifully decorated with chocolate spread, sprinkles and tiny marshmallows. Completely illegal in terms of my diet but quite delicious! I forgot to take one as I was so busy trying not to eat any while at the same time doing the normal, endless cleaning-up routine.

On the book front I have managed to read a few short stories and I’m almost finished with Ali Smith’s How to be both which I’ve enjoyed immensely. But that can wait for another time. I think it’s time for lunch!


3 Responses to How to eat a raisin

  1. Sugar is my nemesis too, Pete. I love it, but I have instant physical and emotional reactions to it (mood swings, which are charming). I am working hard to eliminate it. Hope you feel better on your new regime. I also loved the Ali Smith and I so look forward to your review.

    • Pete says:

      Thanks, Charlotte, it’s encouraging to hear that you struggle with sugar too. I’m trying a new approach now in that I’m treating sugar as an addiction and am taking it a day at a time. The Ali Smith was brilliant but I also struggled a bit with it. Probably due to not having enough time. But not an easy book to review I think.

  2. litlove says:

    You have my full sympathy. Chronic fatigue brought a full range of digestive horrors with it, all of which I’ve tried over time to solve with diet alterations. For the most part they worked, alas, and so I gave up sugar, yeast, alcohol and caffeine. Eight years later, I don’t miss them at all, but it pinched at the time. Stress still goes to my stomach, but I’ve also found that pelvic muscle strengthening exercises have helped. Though I am horribly slovenly about doing them. And also a ten minute rest after eating. I read Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book several years ago and remember the raisin – the only problem being I really don’t like them so would rather not eat one slowly!

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