Jay's Story: Mindful About My Brain

Let me invite you into my process. I started attending Suppers two years ago because the health coach provided by our insurance company said the program offered exactly the kind of social support I needed to stop prediabetes from moving into diabetes. I already knew how to cook and I already had a good idea of what to eat, but I wasn't disciplined or mindful. After two years of on-again off-again intentional eating and encouraging but not spectacular changes in my lab work, something clicked. I was attending various kinds of Suppers meetings, and once I dug into the brain health meetings, the click came and I turned a corner.

I did not want to sabotage all my hard work by giving in to impulses that led me to mindless eating. I had started food journaling, and it turned out to be a great motivator for me because I could see in black and white what might be missing, maybe vegetables or healthy fats. Or I could distinguish treats from triggers. For me what was really motivating was that I became totally honest when I wrote things down. If I am keeping track of all that I eat and drink, I will not binge on cookies or ice cream or candy. It is as simple as that.

The better I got, the easier it was to work together as a family to decide not to have triggering foods in the house. Ice cream is a trigger for all of us. If we have ice cream, we have to go to a shop to eat it. Something that would be a trigger if we kept it in the house is a treat if we limit it by going out.

I have always loved to be outdoors and I love to be moving. It wasn’t hard for me to consciously embrace outdoor activity as a healthier source of pleasure. I added more exercise to my routine. It improves my sleep and helps with mood and energy. I use a glucose meter to check my blood sugar regularly. I know some people don't want to prick their fingers to measure their blood sugar, but I loved getting the hard data.

I could see that the people whose mindful behaviors were best reinforced were the people who facilitated their own meetings. By providing this service, I could actually get more information and more support for myself.  Added responsibility turned out to be highly motivating too. I love to cook and I love to cook for people who appreciate the food. I come from a large family, so the Suppers principle of restoring family tables was gratifying for me. Since the members of my family all had the same basic needs for adding whole foods and subtracting processed foods, the nurturing of the family table became more important than ever.

I'm thrilled. I have discovered some of my own solutions to my health challenges. I've lost weight. I sleep better and have more energy. With each incremental improvement, I have the wherewithal to do more. My mind and my brain are working together, my mind making better decisions and my brain making it easier to make better decisions as I increase the distance between me and my old mindless and triggering behaviors.

“Suppers for Brain Health” probably doesn’t need to be a separate meeting, but the people who attend find it highly motivating to be living brain-protective and mindful lives. It’s lovely to watch the feedback loop working both ways: the mind supports the brain and the brain supports the mind.