Set your intention.
Mindful eating is eating with intention and attention. Assuming that your intention is to feel great, think of dietary changes as choices you make in order to feel your best both short and long term (rather than some externally applied diet).
Consider what your body needs.
When deciding what to eat, ask three questions: What do I want? What do I need? and What do I have? The question “What do I need?” is all about acknowledging your personal health needs, including medical issues, allergies and reactions, family history, and health goals.
Use nutrition information as a tool, not a weapon.
Nutrition knowledge is helpful for making decisions, but it is not the only criteria for deciding what to eat.
Balance eating for nourishment with eating for enjoyment.
There is room in your diet for foods eaten for pleasure! In fact, regularly including foods you love makes it less likely that you will overeat those foods because you ran out of willpower. While it may seem counter-intuitive, when you are free to eat whatever you want, food loses the power it had over you so you don’t even need willpower! As a result, your choices are likely to be more balanced instead of “all of nothing.”
Don’t miss the lesson.
One of the many benefits of mindful eating is that your awareness helps you make connections between what and how much you eat and how you feel—as well as how you feel and what or how much you eat! This direct feedback is very helpful for making changes in order to feel good – not to be good.
Recognize and address your non-hunger triggers for eating.
When a craving doesn’t come from hunger, eating will never satisfy it. By learning to meet your other needs in more effective ways, you won’t use food for that purpose nearly as often.
Eating is for fueling living.
In our food-abundant, diet- and weight-obsessed culture, eating occupies too much of our time, attention, and energy. Your were born with the instinctive ability to eat enough food to fuel your life. Learning how to get back to that place where you can trust your ability to manage your eating without a bunch of rules gives you a pattern of eating that you can sustain almost effortlessly.
When you recognize that you want to eat in response to a trigger rather than physical hunger, you can choose to do another activity to redirect your attention until the urge passes. Print a copy of the list below. Highlight the ideas that appeal to you and add some of your own. Choose activities that are enjoyable, available, and preferably, eating incompatible. Create a “Redirection Kit” or drawer with everything you need to distract yourself. Establish a Self-Care Zone that’s perfect for these moments.
Imagine a healthier, energetic you • Walk around the block • Call a friend • Make a list of your Top Ten Reasons to get active • Read a child a book • Make a To Do list • Dance a little • Plan a vacation • Get a massage • Jot a thank you note to someone • Go to bed early • Read a great book • Write in your Awareness Journal • Give yourself a manicure or pedicure • Plan a healthy meal for your family • Surf the Internet • Finish an unfinished project • Walk your dog • Feel your feelings • Volunteer in your community • Start a hobby • Brush your teeth • Tape your favorite show to watch while exercising • Take 5 slow, deep cleansing breaths • Practice an instrument • Balance your checkbook • Plan a party • Say a prayer • Buy yourself some flowers • Do a few sit-ups • Make a phone call to someone you like • Chop veggies to keep on hand • Set your priorities • Try a new hairstyle • Give a massage • Write down something you are proud of this week • Clean out a junk drawer • Play a game with your kids • Try a new route on your walk • Scream! • Plant fresh herbs to use in your cooking • Drink a glass of water • Kiss someone • Try on some clothes • Catch up on your reading for work • Look at old pictures • Rent a video • Smell the roses • Wash your car • Chew some gum • Plan a date for someone special • Swim a few laps • Read Eat What You Love • Take a hot, soothing bath • Update your calendar • Get it off your chest • Build something • Check on an elderly person • Work in your yard • Start your holiday shopping list • Count your blessings • Write a letter • Fold some laundry • Notice your inner conversations • Take a nap • Run an errand • Work on your budget • Take a bike ride • Check your e-mail • Make a positive statement about yourself and repeat often • Give your dog a bath • Start a project you’ve been wanting to get around to • Send a birthday card • Meditate • Try a healthy new recipe • Play cards • Set your goals • Freshen your make-up • Hug someone • Rearrange some furniture • Go take a hike! • Help with homework • Light a fire or some candles • Say “STOP!” out loud • Organize your photos • Walk around your workplace • Try a new relaxation technique • Talk it over with someone • Get a head start on your taxes • S-t-r-e-t-c-h • Do a “Honey Do” • Say what’s on your mind • Go pick up your mail • Straighten a closet • Think • Do something nice for someone anonymously • Check the stock market • Plan a romantic encounter • Clean out a file • Tell someone how you really feel • When you become truly physically hungry, eat!
Source: Michelle May, M.D. From Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat. AmIHungry.com
Plan for a specific period of time, usually 15‐40 minutes. Dress comfortably. Leave all unnecessary baggage at home or in your office. Go outdoors and begin to walk slowly noticing your thoughts, feelings and sensations as the come. As you notice them say them to yourself:
- “left foot touching earth”
- “sunlight on grass”
- “wondering what’s for dinner”
- “Paper…. I need to write”
- “Feeling silly,” etc.
Continue in silence, walking slowly until time ends.
Adapted from Kornfield, J. (1993).A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life. New York: Bantam Books, 66‐67.
For this holiday season, Dr. Susan Albers has created a mindful eating program to help you manage holiday stress.
- a 1 minute Mindful Eating Challenge
- and a 1 minute Yoga practice.
If you choose to eat candy this Halloween, here is a list of tips to help you to do it MINDFULLY:
- SELECT MINDFULLY: Choose your favorite candy. Examine all of your options before picking one.
- SIT DOWN: Before you eat candy, take a seat! Sitting helps to reduce distraction so you can enjoy the candy more.
- SLOWLY CHEW: Remember: Pace, don’t race when it comes to eating candy. Take a little bite. Don’t worry. Eat slowly!
- SAVOR EACH BITE: Fully enjoy this piece of candy from start to finish before you move onto the next bite or decide if you want another piece. That first bite might be just enough so take some time to think if you really need or want another piece.
P.S. It’s of to give kids another non-food options (spider rings, vampire fangs, stickers, glow bracelets, pencils).
Repeat after me. “I am not a number.” Owning a scale is both a good and bad thing. It can be your ally by providing you with feedback. Weighing in only once a week (at the most) lets you know when you’ve been losing weight and when your weight loss has stalled. More frequent weighing in (daily or even multiple times a day) can be problematic because daily fluctuations in weight occur due to things like water retention, or what time of the the day you are weighing. People sometimes let the number on the scale dictate their mood for the day. Does this sound familiar? Down a pound? Yay! It’s going to be a great day! Up a pound? What’s the point of even trying? I’m just going to go eat some cookies. DO NOT let the scale control your life! Your body weight is no reflection of who you are, your strength, your intelligence, your kindness, your beauty, or your worth. Focus on eating for good health, for nourishment, and exercising for strength and energy. Use clothes fit as indicator of how you’re doing in your journey for a healthier weight. DO NOT let a number on a scale define who you are or how much joy you have in your life!
It’s time to take charge of your food impulses and start doing something really taboo, find genuine pleasure when eating. Many of us often feel guilt, shame or stress when we eat, but the key to enjoying food can be gained through using techniques designed to help you eat mindfully.Learning these skills allows you to enjoy an orange as much as chocolate and not feel anxious about which one you choose.
In this video Dr. Susan Albers breaks down the 4 biggest struggles she helps clients overcome. You will also discover a practical exercise to help quiet your inner food critic.
Having a healthy relationship with food can be tricky when you’re at home. After a long day at work, it’s easy to sit back, turn on the TV and start eating mindlessly while watching your favorite shows.If you add having a rough day to the mix, you can stress eat and choose comfort foods instead of nourishing your body.However, there’s a way to find peace, make different decisions and find joy when eating.
In this video, Dr. Susan Albers shares tangible techniques that helped one of her clients overcome her fear of eating every chip in her house WHILE managing her weight and health in the process. Be sure to listen for the helpful mantras she provides to start raising your confidence and ability to avoid close-by trigger foods that typically nag at your mind.
When we feel particularly miserable, uncomfortable, or sad, we often find ourselves reaching for unhealthy foods. This isn’t a new idea. In fact, it’s as old as the term, “comfort foods.” In this case, outsmarting your appetite is simple. But that doesn’t make it easy. In fact, you may find it quite a challenge. Here is what you need to do:
Sit still and experience your feelings, even the uncomfortable ones.
Actually feel them.
And accept them.
Use the activity below to try this out. Not only will you distract yourself from your thoughts of food, by engaging your feelings directly, you aren’t shunting them off for your appetite to deal with. You have taken charge!
Practicing Sitting with Your Feelings
Take a moment right now to try this out. Close your eyes. Sit very still. Use the thoughts and physical sensations that pop up to identify what you are feeling. Write those feelings on these lines.
Now, tell yourself out loud,
“I am experiencing (name your feelings out loud). These feelings are legitimate. It is okay that I am feeling this way. It may not feel good, but it will not last forever. I accept these feelings.”
Allow your body to embrace the emotions.
Write the feeling down so that in a later moment, you can work out ways to resolve any issues that are causing it.
Then tell yourself,
“I am a strong person. I can deal with these feelings. I will not hide from them behind food.”
You can do this!
Click here for the PDF version of this mindful eating exercise Sit With Your Feelings.
Source: Outsmart your appetite by Dr. Susan Albers.