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  • 13 Oct 2017 6:02 PM | TCME Admin (Administrator)


    Annual Fundraising Auction


    Please donate to our third Annual Fundraising Auction to benefit The Center for Mindful Eating. 


    Click here to make your donation - you will need to register as a donor (not a bidder, unless you want to do both together, of course!). The deadline is November 15, 2017.


    Bidding opens on November 28, 2017, Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Bidding closes December 7, 2017.


    Our mission is to provide resources to professionals and individuals who seek to develop a mindful eating practice through our publications, including our quarterly Food for Thought e-magazine, and our monthly teleconferences and webinars, including our Foundations of Mindful Eating webinar series. Thank you for your anticipated support.


    We’ve had timeshares, art, meditation and yoga retreats, mindful eating training opportunities, books, self-study programs and more. We count on our mindful eating community to help boost our annual revenue by as much as 10% with this auction. Your donation will help TCME continue its mission to help people achieve a balanced, respectful, healthy and joyful relationship with food and eating. You’ll also get your name and product or service out there to our online community of 15,000+ contacts.


    If you would prefer to simply make a cash contribution to help us reach our 2018 fundraising goals, please visit http://thecenterformindfuleating.org/donate to make a donation. We are a 501(c)3 registered non-profit and all donations are tax deductible.


    In gratitude,

    Marsha Hudnall, President

    Cinzia Pezzolesi, Vice President

    Lynn Rossy, Vice President

    Sharon Theroux, Treasurer

    Sandra Aamodt

    Carolyn Baerten

    Cecilia Clementi

    Alice Rosen

    Claudia Vega


    The Center for Mindful Eating Board of Directors

    Join us on Facebook and Twitter




    Popular donations from last year included:


    • Mindful eating training programs for professionals or individuals

    • Mindfulness, meditation or specifically focused mindful eating retreats

    • Travel opportunities such as timeshares and vacation homes around the world

    • Mindful eating books written and signed by our talented members

    • Organized travel events, such as “Tasting Italy: A Mindful Eating Adventure”

    • Culinary skills training

    • Books on mindful eating or related topics, especially if signed by the author

    • CDs or digital downloads of led mindful eating mindfulness practices


    Benefits of donating to The Center for Mindful Eating auction


    • Visibility: your donation will be shared widely through our email list (15,000 contacts), the BiddingforGood website and our social media networks on Facebook and Twitter

    • Your donated item or cash donation is tax deductible

    • You can feel great about helping The Center of Mindful Eating meet its mission

    • You can tap into a larger business audience when you tweet about your auction donation!


    Donating is easy!


    • Please submit your donations by November 15, 2017. We will accept contributions through November 26, but we’d like to give you the opportunity to be publicized for as long as possible. Having our donations ready by November 1st will get you in the promotional materials.

    • The Auction will be held November 28 - December 7, 2017


  • 02 Oct 2017 2:51 PM | TCME Admin (Administrator)


    Our Autumn 2017 issue of Food for Thought, "How Mindful Eating Nourishes Happiness," offers a glimpse into the many ways that mindfulness and mindful eating can create a foundation for happiness, joy and contentment. The road map for happiness is an individual journey, but there are four stops you can anticipate along the way. These are: experiencing the happiness of sense contact, such as looking, tasting, smelling, feeling, touching and listening; the happiness of positive emotions such as joy, loving-kindness, compassion, and equanimity; the happiness of concentrating your mind; and finally, the happiness of insight into your behaviors and interconnections.


    Featuring:


    Emotional Superfoods: The Sublime Attitudes of Mindful Eating,
    Ronna Kabatznick, Ph.D.


    Acceptance of What Is, a Nourishing Ingredient of Mindful Eating, Claudia Vega, MD


    Four Ways to Nourish Happiness. Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., RD, CDE (educational handout for clients)


    Meditation on Gratitude to Nourish Our Souls, Claudia Vega, MD


    How Mindful Eating Nourishes Happiness


  • 18 Jul 2017 7:04 PM | TCME Admin (Administrator)

    We are pleased to introduce Grace E. Bell, MA Applied Behavioral Science, Certified Facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie, in our Member Spotlight for July 2017.


    Grace facilitates an annual retreat called Eating Peace, as well as an 3-month online immersion course with coaching for a small group called the Eating Peace Process, during the winter months where she lives (Pacific Northwest, USA). Her primary mindfulness modality is The Work of Byron Katie or Inquiry-Based Stress Reduction. As a practice, The Work offers great insight and healing in an ongoing way for many. When there are ways to address stress and suffering, eating for emotional reasons is no longer necessary.


    Q. Would you describe your mindful eating program?

    Eating Peace is a program primarily created to address emotional and/or unconscious eating. We do this with a series of focused topics: Mind and Thinking, Feelings, Body and Daily Living.

    But overall, we’re taking a journey through these topics and studying the moments we feel compelled to eat when not hungry. We then learn and use The Work of Byron Katie, to inquire and question stressful beliefs that lead to eating. We begin to identify the beliefs we’ve carried (sometimes for years) that prevent clarity or peace with food and our bodies. Everyone learns The Work, how to identify what they think that feels stressful, and then the steps to follow as we question our thoughts. The final step is to turnaround our troubling thoughts, after studying them and investigating beliefs, and practicing or “living” the opposite of our painful beliefs. It doesn’t happen instantly, it’s a practice and becomes a way of working with our stress and suffering. 


    Q: Please share with us your favorite resource for someone who is interested in learning about mindful eating?

    I’ve loved the resources offered in mindfulness in general with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Adyashanti, my primary meditation teacher. The good Geneen Roth and all her writing and work on emotional eating has been both humorous and joyful for me. The short ebook I’ve written on Eating Peace: Seven Foundational Steps to Help You Eat In Peace For The Rest of Your Life is useful for understanding the power of slowing down, watching, self-inquiry, and ending disturbance around eating and food. https://workwithgrace.leadpages.net/peaceful-eating/


    Q: Do you have a few favorite mindful eating tips to offer?

    My favorite is to notice a time of day or situation where you generally find yourself over-eating or eating things you don’t really want to eat. People often experience this, for example, at home in the evening when there are no officially scheduled places to be. But there may be other situations where someone finds themselves repeatedly overeating or graze eating without care or kindness to themselves. Writing down the stressful thoughts you have about what you should be doing, what you want or long for, or what seems to be missing in these situations is very powerful for identifying the thinking that creates the urge to eat when not hungry. I have found over and over, when we’re clear about what’s happening in our perceptions of a situation, we can look more closely and change it. It’s hard to make changes when you don’t see what the problem is, and often some of the thoughts we have about food, eating, body, interactions with people are based on very old assumptions we’ve never questioned. Journaling about what you think in any stressful situation helps to identify what the mind says is happening. And then, the good news is, you can question those stressful assumptions or test them.


    Q: Tell us a little how you came to this path with a story or memorable moment.

    My family held a celebratory dinner at our home, as a college send-off to me to attend a small prestigious liberal arts school. At the dinner with many guests, I found myself eating, eating and eating. My body image had been decaying for several years—very anxious about the size of my thighs and worried about weight—and I had tried to “control” my eating. The whole meal was abject failure. I was acting nice and answering questions, but feeling horrible inside and didn’t know it, but I was terrified. I excused myself when I thought I had done my dutiful socializing and hand-shaking, and went upstairs and thought “this time, I will force myself to throw up, no matter what.” That began a quick slide downhill psychologically, and I returned home for treatment after only 7 months at college. The next ten years of my life were mostly dedicated to recovery.


    Q: What question have you encountered about mindful eating or mindfulness that makes you cringe?

    Sometimes a person is so overwhelmed by compulsion, craving, and a desperate need to eat, it seems crazy to speak of mindful eating, relaxing and tasting, checking in with the hunger level, being with food calmly. We’re so far from calm in that moment, mindfulness seems impossible to even begin. For wild cravings and the urge to binge eat (like I experienced) I think there are other steps to consider including support to heal trauma, or extremely fearful thinking. 


    Q: What is your vision for mindful eating? What do you want mindful eating to help or cure?

    My vision for mindful eating is that in many ways, it becomes the easy way, the natural way to eat when we’ve become clear and loving about our feelings, thoughts and past experiences. If we aren’t feeling peaceful, then mindful eating is a way to rehearse or practice peaceful behavior with food. There is nothing like having a huge craving to eat off-balance actually dissolve without the binge. People with eating issues often believe the only thing that will help them calm down is to follow the craving and eat, and it’s very liberating to find this isn’t true. Mindful eating can be like the practice of meditation. Even if thoughts are going wild, we sit still, and allow the energy to pass. Mindful eating helps end shame, self-criticism, guilt and all the very dark thoughts people have about themselves when it comes to eating. 


    Q: Would you share with us why you chose to join The Center for Mindful Eating?

    By great fortune, I found deep healing from the first time I knew I needed help with the tortured dynamic I was experiencing with eating and food. I was so lucky I didn’t join diet clubs or grueling or rigid food plans. I knew I had it in me to be normal with eating and something was terribly off-balance, but it wasn’t about the food. When I came across the Center for Mindful Eating, I very much appreciated the same approach to healing the way we eat, that it is not about the calories, specific food, nutrition (although these can all be wonderful to learn about) but the way we are consuming that is at the base of it all—is it peaceful and mindful, or chaotic and emotional? Great to have this resource with the approach that eating is like learning to dance. You may fumble at the beginning and not know the steps, but you get more and more comfortable with practice.


    Please see www.workwithgrace.com for more information about Grace.

    To receive the Eating Peace ebook please download it for free here: https://workwithgrace.leadpages.net/peaceful-eating/

    For more information about Grace’s annual Eating Peace Process program plus in-person January 2018 retreat, visit here: http://workwithgrace.com/eating-peace/eating-peace-online/



    You, too, can shine in our Member Spotlight!

     We are dedicated to support the promotion of our members' mindful eating related projects that are in harmony with our Principles of Mindful Eating. Open to all current members: Apply for a Member Spotlight

    Meet our previous Member Spotlights


  • 01 Jul 2017 3:19 PM | TCME Admin (Administrator)

    This ambitious edition of Food for Thought offers the reader a glimpse into the many causes of shame, the basis of shame resilience, and the emerging benefits of a mindful eating practice to counter this toxic emotion.


    The lead article, intended for anyone working with clients experiencing shame, is Body-Image Shame: Causes, Consequences, and Resilience by Sandra Aamodt, Ph.D., author of Why Diets Make Us Fat: The Unintended Consequences of Our Obsession with Weight Loss. Sandra explains, “For many people, a major source of shame is their bodies, and the shame manifests as as failing to meet some standard of beauty or function.” This article explores the complex nature of shame and reviews the research linking shame with disordered eating.


    The educational handout, entitled: What Can We Do With Shame?, was written by Caroline Baerten, mindfulness-based nutritionist/RD, qualified chef, and integrative psychotherapist. Caroline compassionately explains what shame is and how shame may be experienced. “The first thing we can acknowledge is that this hidden secret of “not being or doing enough” is extremely energy consuming.” 


    To effectively treat patients who experience shame, professionals need to build their own shame resilience. The practice article, Breaking the “Should” Habit, describes the advantages of noticing the word “should.” Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., RD, CDE, co-founder of The Center for Mindful Eating and author of The Core Concept of Mindful Eating, demonstrates how the “should” habit has no regarding for what is present, but “it is the tendency to make judgments about what you ‘should’ feel or do.”


    We hope you enjoy learning about the help that mindful eating can offer both professionals and clients in overcoming shame. The issue is completed by a six-step guided meditation, Promoting Body Acceptance: Listening to My Body, which we hope can become part of your mindfulness practice.


  • 27 Jun 2017 11:56 AM | TCME Admin (Administrator)




    The theme this quarter is transitioning. July 2017 marks the month I will step down from the board of The Center for Mindful Eating. I have learned the creation of a nonprofit is a very different job than the growth and expansion of the reach of the nonprofit. This next step has been skillfully provisioned by Marsha Hudnall, RD, the owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run, who will remain as the President of The Center for Mindful Eating.


    Many of you may not be aware of how I imagined creating The Center for Mindful Eating in 2004 after writing my first book, Discover Mindful Eating, with Fredrick Burggraph. I fondly remember having the courage to reach out to the pioneers of the mindful eating movement -  visionaries like Jean Kristeller, Ph.D., creator of MB-EAT and the author of The Art of the Inner Meal and Donald Altman, MA, who helped me form this amazing organization. Personal heroes raised their hands and joined my efforts -  trend-setters like Molly Kellogg, RD, author of the book series Counseling Tips for The Nutrition Therapist; Ronna Kabatznick, Ph.D., author of The Zen of Eating; and Jan Chozen Bays, MD, author of Mindful Eating. Today, it is easy to look at Google Trends and see the impact The Center has had in creating and growing interest in mindful eating while remaining true to its mindfulness roots.

    If you are not yet familiar with The Center for Mindful Eating, please visit at https://www.thecenterformindfuleating.org/ and sign up for the free newsletter, “Mindful Bytes.”


    As we grow, we change. As our experiences shape us, our needs shift, and we are faced with transitions. In the months ahead, my blog, Mindful Eating Made Easy will be discussing how to transition clients in a counseling setting. This month, my topic is how a client’s motivation shifts in counseling. In Motivational Interviewing, this is known as change talk.  


    In the following months if you sign up to receive my newsletter, Mindful Eating Made Easy you will discover invaluable information regarding Change Talk, Clarifying the Why, and The Importance of Asking Permission.


    The topic of transitions is a place of vulnerability for most people, myself included. The ‘call of the cookies’ seems loudest during periods of transition. Mindfulness has helped me realize many moments in life are simply transitions, moving me from day to day, meal to meal, bite to bite, choice to choice, moment to moment, and breath to breath. Awareness of this never-ending state of transition is a necessary step in accepting the dynamic impermanence of life.


    Twelve years ago, a diverse group of mindfulness leaders crafted a vision. They included in the bylaws guidelines that the leadership of The Center should change over time.  This inevitable transition - leaving The Center for Mindful Eating - has allowed me to start the cycle of dreaming all over again. After stepping down as President in 2016, I dreamed of writing a book for professionals providing an overview of Mindful Eating. In May of 2017, The Core Concepts of Mindful Eating: Professional Edition became available! In addition, I am thrilled to be able to offer a 10-week live training via the internet in September 2017 which will provide 40 CPE/CEU for RD/RDN/RDT.  


    The transition before me is one of excitement and joy as I dream of how I can meet, encourage, empower, support, and welcome the next round of passionate, mindful eating teachers who are willing to change the world!  


    In peace,

     

    Megrette Fletcher, MEd, RD CDE



  • 06 Jun 2017 7:11 PM | TCME Admin (Administrator)

    This month’s Member Spotlight shines on Annie Mahon, M.S., M.A., RYT, LMT. Annie would like to share her book, released by Parallax Press at the end of 2015, which describes her personal story from struggling with food and eating disorders as a young woman, to finding mindfulness in her 30s, and then dealing with the suffering of her daughters, two of whom ended up also having eating disorders. Her approach is very gentle and accepting. She writes, “what I've discovered is that much of our suffering comes from thinking we can reach some perfect state, and when we are able to drop that striving, we can definitely be much happier.” Annie writes about mindfulness on her blog, teaches mindfulness, is the founder of a yoga studio and DC Yoga Week as well as a meditation group. She is also a massage therapist and a Focusing certified professional.


    Q. Would you describe your mindful eating program?

    I teach mindful eating starting from pleasure, self-care, and acceptance of where we are right in this moment. When we drop into the body through a single breath or tasting delicious food, it brings us into the present moment in a full-bodied way. It's only by residing in the present moment that we can sense when we are being triggered around food and eating.


    Once we are able to slow down enough to sense our triggering in the body, we can offer compassionate mindful attention to whatever arises. As we hold those tender places -- the very wounds that have caused us to eat in dysfunctional ways -- they are able to transform and heal. From here, we have space to consciously choose how, when and what we want to eat.  As we experience the benefits of this practice, we choose to practice more and more often -- it's the opposite of a vicious circle -- we can call it a pleasure vortex.


    Q: Please share with us your favorite resource for someone who is interested in learning about mindful eating?

    Practicing mindful eating with others is the best way to learn mindful eating. I recommend going on a mindfulness or Zen retreat, where everyone is practicing mindful eating for several days or more. There are unlimited numbers of retreats all around the world, choose one that looks interesting, and just be sure that they include mindful eating (usually done in silence) as part of their practice.


    Q: Do you have a few favorite mindful eating tips to offer?

    My favorite mindful eating practice is sensing into my body. When thoughts about food or eating arise, either while eating or before eating, sense into your body to see if hunger is there or if there is something else. You may discover that you are feeling something in you that is tired or anxious whenever you feel like eating. It may manifest as tightness in the stomach, or jitteriness, or heaviness. It may be true that eating will distract you from these feelings, and may even give you more energy if you are tired, but until you check in, you are operating out of unconscious habit. Once you check in with yourself, you have a chance to choose how to handle those feelings, rather than automatically reaching for a piece of chocolate or a bagel.


    Q: Tell us a little how you came to this path with a story or memorable moment.

    Like most everyone else, I was a very normal eater as a child. When I reached the age of about 11, I became aware of the conversations around food and fatness in my household. Later, I heard the same judgments about body size at school and in the media. My Dad was a chronic dieter and my mom was a strict vegetarian. Everyone was slightly obsessed around food and body size. So I started sneaking into my Dad's stash of diet pills and liquid protein, and I got addicted to feeling like I had control over my body. My first boyfriends encouraged my thin focus, and eventually I became bulimic. Some years later, my discovery of mindfulness meditation and yoga began my healing journey, which continues until today. I am always learning more and finding more and more moments of mindfulness and joy, and less focus on food and body size.


    Q: What question have you encountered about mindful eating or mindfulness that makes you cringe?

    What makes me feel sad is when I see people using mindful eating as another weapon with which to abuse their hearts and their bodies. When I first began practicing, I thought I had to do it perfectly, and in addition to re-traumatizing myself, it just didn't work. It was only when I accepted that I will always have moments of "unmindful" eating, and that was totally OK, that I really began to be more present. When we are trying to be perfectly mindful, we are just caught up in a different story, we aren't really living in our bodies in the present moment. As my teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, says, if our practice isn't joyful, it isn't the practice. I tend to be a goal-oriented woman, so this has been a challenging lesson for me to learn, and I have seen so many other people, mostly women, who have used mindfulness to drive themselves even harder. I'm hoping that my teaching has shifted that for some of these women.


    Q: What is your vision for mindful eating? What do you want mindful eating to help or cure?

    Mindful eating is a fun and tasty way to practice mindfulness and enjoy the gift of food. Most of us who suffer with disordered eating, don't even enjoy ourselves when we are bingeing of delicious food! So my hope is that this practice will help us savor the tastes of food, and in this way return to us our ability to experience pleasure, which can only happen in the present moment. Another thing Thich Nhat Hanh says is that there are already enough conditions for happiness in any moment. Mindful eating is a wonderful reminder of those conditions.


    Q: Would you share with us why you chose to join The Center for Mindful Eating?

    The Center for Mindful Eating is a leader in the field of mindful eating, and offers so many helpful and thoughtful resources to those of us practicing and teaching this. This practice isn't easy, and one of the things I learned early on was that a sangha (a community that practices together) is really a necessary condition for transformation. We really can't do it alone. I'm so happy that TCME is there to support us.


    Please check out my book Things I Did When I Was Hangry: Navigating a Peaceful Relationship with Food, my blog on mindfulness at www.rawmindfulness.com, like my Facebook page www.facebook.com/rawmindfulness/ and follow me on Twitter @rawmindfulness.


  • 02 Jun 2017 3:36 PM | TCME Admin (Administrator)

    The Center for Mindful Eating is a US-based, 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to providing education, resources, and networking opportunities for students, individuals and professionals seeking to deepen their understanding and practice of mindful eating, both personally and professionally. 


    Businesses including publishing houses, treatment centers, individuals and others are invited to consider a sponsorship package to help support the creation and distribution of materials, resources, and programs to help people develop mindful eating skills and practices.


    We are proud to share that we have:


    • Over 85,000 website visitors annually
    • Over 4000 quarterly readers of our Food for Thought e-magazine
    • Nearly 14,000 contacts who receive our monthly Mindful Bytes e-newsletter
    • Monthly webinars that offer introductory, intermediate and advanced information on mindful eating for individuals and professionals
    • 7000 monthly reach on Facebook 
    • 8000 monthly reach on Twitter


    We welcome sponsors who are aligned with our purposeprinciples and position statements

    Please complete our Sponsorship Inquiry Form

    If you have any questions, please contact us at info@tcme.org


    Sponsorship Levels

    Platinum $2000 per year

    • Company logo on our Website homepage banner

    • Company logo in four quarterly issues of Food for Thought  e-magazine

    • A verbal announcement of sponsorship on six (6) TCME webinars

    • Company logo placement on the beginning and closing pages of six (6) TCME webinars

    • Company logo and short description of your business in our monthly e-Newsletters (14K contacts, 12 mailings)

    • Four (4) blog posts with your branding, linked to your website 

    • Mention of sponsorship in monthly social media posts - links, products, programs (Facebook, Twitter)
    • One organizational membership for ten (10) people - value $750 

    Gold $1500 per year

    • Company logo on our Website homepage banner

    • Company logo in four quarterly issues of Food for Thought  e-magazine

    • A verbal announcement of sponsorship on three (3) TCME webinars

    • Company logo placement on the beginning and closing pages of three (3) TCME webinars

    • Company logo and short description of your business in our monthly e-Newsletters (14K contacts, 12 mailings)

    • Three (3) blog posts with your branding, linked to your website 

    • Mention of sponsorship in monthly social media posts - links, products, programs (Facebook, Twitter)
    • One organizational membership for five (5) people - value $375

    Silver $1000 per year

    • Company logo on our Website homepage banner

    • Company logo in four quarterly issues of Food for Thought  e-magazine

    • A verbal announcement of sponsorship on one (1) TCME webinar

    • Company logo placement on the beginning and closing pages of one (1) TCME webinar

    • Company logo and short description of your business in our monthly e-Newsletters (14K contacts, 12 mailings)

    • Two (2) blog posts with your branding, linked to your website 

    • Mention of sponsorship in monthly social media posts - links, products, programs (Facebook, Twitter)
    • One organizational membership for two (2) people - value $150


  • 26 May 2017 9:36 AM | TCME Admin (Administrator)

    Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., RD, CDE. is pleased to these announce the release of her newest book, the Core Concepts of Mindful Eating: Professional Edition.


    Finally, health care professionals have a way to save time, energize their counseling and help clients create compassionate, sustainable changes. Core Concepts of Mindful Eating: Professional Edition is for any professional interested in mindful eating. This comprehensive workbook is more than just an overview because each chapter contains teaching activities that promote understanding and can be quickly incorporated into an education session. The Core Concepts of Mindful Eating: Professional Edition offers hands-on and tools, practical techniques for Registered Dietitians, Health Coaches, and Therapists to broaden their counseling skills and bring mindful eating into the session. 


    The Core Concepts of Mindful Eating: Professional Edition is of interest to The Center for Mindful Eating members because this book is built on the principles and position statements that the Center created. It provides a Health At Every Size compliant manual for any professional looking to promote awareness, and compassionate, sustainable change.


    “In a time when eating and weight struggles seem epidemic, Megrette Fletcher offers an in-depth guide for professionals who want to support their clients in finding a sustainable path to well-being through mindful eating. No matter whether you’re new to mindful eating or a long-time proponent, this book is a valuable read.”

    MARSHA HUDNALL, MS, RDN, CD

    President & Co-Owner, Green Mountain at Fox Run


    Megrette Fletcher is the owner of megrette.com — She is a registered dietitian, diabetes educator, author and co-founder of The Center for Mindful Eating.  She provides easy to use resources and teaching materials that are HAES compliant to build strong client relationships and promote sustainable wellbeing. Training tools and programs are designed to assist dietitians, diabetes educators, nutritionist, coaches, health care professionals, educational institutions and wellness focused corporations.


  • 04 May 2017 1:13 PM | TCME Admin (Administrator)

    False Promises and New Possibilities: Life After Dieting

    Dana Notte, MS, RD, CD

    Spring is an apropos time to talk about diets. The newest fads of the season are splashed all over magazine covers in the supermarket check-out line. TV ads sell us on shiny at home workout equipment. And, daytime talk show guests tout solutions to our weight loss woes. We watch and we read how we’ll finally “lose weight for good” and we walk away feeling empowered and invigorated to take charge of our health…well, at least for a few days.

    We start each new weight loss program with the confidence that this time it will really stick – yet it almost never does. So why do we keep coming back for more? And, what can we do instead? 

    What Do Diets Promise?

    Essentially, diets promise to solve all of our problems. They promise to make us thinner (and continuously reinforce the notion that our body size is in fact a problem). They promise to make us healthier. And, they promise to make us happier.

    We are captivated by the allure of their potential – because they make us believe that we are just one diet away of having the body and the life of our dreams. Who wouldn’t want that?

    What Do Diets Deliver?

    The answer: none of the above.

    If you are thinking, “wait a minute, I’ve lost weight on lots of diets, so I know they work,” then I challenge you to rethink how you define what “works.” Most people diet with the end goal of maintaining the weight loss they’ve achieved for the long term. And if they really worked, we wouldn’t find ourselves looking for the next best thing every spring. Diets don’t result in long-term weight loss…in fact, they usually result in weight gain1.

    It’s also true that dieting can have a harmful effect on health. The vast majority of people who diet find themselves weight cycling (that is losing weight, then gaining it back, then gaining back more than was lost, before losing weight again – and round and round the cycle goes) and research is emerging to show the effects weight cycling may potentially have on health, especially heart health2. And even beyond physical health, dieting takes a toll on our psyche, too. It leaves us feeling defeated, guilty, and shameful. It lowers self-esteem and promotes body dissatisfaction. And, it ultimately perpetuates (and even encourages) disordered eating behaviors3.

    And when I ask people how they feel when they are on a diet, “happy,” is not the answer I usually get. Sure, at the beginning there might be a sense of elation, we call that the “dieter’s high,” when we feel like we are finally “in control.” But, it’s short lived and sooner rather than later the feelings of deprivation become overwhelming – leading to us making decisions that are inconsistent with the diet – which then leads to feelings of guilt, defeat, shame, and self-loathing. Usually, it’s the opposite of happy.

    If Not a Diet, Then What?

    On this International No Diet Day I invite you to make your last diet your last diet. And, I offer you a new approach (drum roll please!)…

    Mindful eating.

    As defined by The Center for Mindful Eating, mindful eating is…

    • Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom. 
    • Using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body.   

    Acknowledging responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral) without judgment.

    Becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating.

    It says nothing about good foods and bad foods – in fact, it says just the opposite. Food does not have a moralistic value and when we can view food through a neutral lens, it helps to decrease the power it has over us.

    It allows us to be flexible with food choices, to be aware of and recognize how to meet our true needs in any given moment. Sometimes that means choosing the grilled salmon salad, sometimes it’s choosing the chocolate cake, and sometimes it’s noticing that food is not really what we need at all in the present moment.

    And, it’s also recognizing that each eating experience is unique and is an opportunity to gather information and learn (as opposed to “getting it right” which is the impossible standard set by diets). It creates space for us to experiment with and be curious about food – to gather data and better understand what drives our decisions about what, when, and how much to eat - without setting unrealistic expectations of perfection.

    Imagine the Possibilities.

    Mindful eating offers you…

    • Freedom from restrictive diet rules and the opportunity to finally become your own authority on your food decisions.
    • The ability to eat in a way that is truly health supportive and enjoyable.
    • A chance to make peace with food and your body – to see yourself as more than just a number on the scale – and to focus on feeling your absolute best rather than tormenting yourself in an effort to achieve the impossible appearance standard that society has set forth.
    • The keys to the doors of the life you’ve been putting on hold – the life that dieting has been standing in the way of.

    So, on this International No Diet Day, consider saying farewell to diets and celebrating this new, unrestricted opportunity to eat, enjoy, and appreciate food that nourishes all of you – body, mind, and soul.

    Dana is a registered dietitian and Nutrition Lead at Green Mountain at Fox Run, a non-diet, mindfulness-based women's retreat for healthy weight and well-being, where she helps women establish a balanced and healthy relationship with food and learn how to use food to feel their best while becoming fearless, confident, and mindful eaters. You can reach her at dana.notte@fitwoman.com.

    References:

    1. Siahpush M, et al. Dieting Increases the Likelihood of Subsequent Obesity and BMI Gain: Results from a Prospective Study of an Australian National Sample. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 2015; 22(5):662-71.

    2. Bangalore S, et al. Body-Weight Fluctuations and Outcomes in Coronary Disease. New England Journal of Medicine. 2017;376(14):1332-40.

    3. Andrés A, Saldaña C. Body Dissatisfaction and Dietary Restraint Influence Binge Eating Behavior. Nutrition Research. 2014;34(11):944-50.


  • 03 Apr 2017 8:21 AM | TCME Admin (Administrator)


    by Shiri Macri, MA, LCMHC, Behavior Leader at Green Mountain at Fox Run


    Have you ever thought to yourself: “It’s been a tough day, I just want a big bowl of ice cream.”? 


    Or, “After the day I had, I deserve a treat.” 


    Stress eating is very common and it really does work in terms of alleviating stress – at least in the moment. So we don’t want to demonize stress eating, but instead sprinkle some mindfulness on it and consider how often we stress eat, how much food we’re eating and in what other ways we can cope with stress.


    Why We Stress Eat

    First, a few words about stress and why we eat this way. 


    The stress response, in a nutshell, is a physical response that happens in our body when we are faced with a danger. When prehistoric human ran into a saber-toothed tiger, the body went into automatic survival mode, aka, fight-flight-or-freeze. We get a surge of adrenaline and cortisol, the body’s stress hormones. The heart races, muscles tighten, pupils dilate, and breathing rate increases, among other physical changes. This physical stress response enables us to survive a life or death situation. 


    That said, how many of us are faced with tigers on a regular basis? Few, if any. 


    Instead, many of us are faced with lower level stressors on a more ongoing basis. For example, we may have a demanding job, busy household, relationship strains, or perhaps we worry excessively, or place high expectations on ourselves. This is known as chronic stress, in which the source of stress may be less traumatic compared to say a car accident or a life-threatening situation. 


    With chronic stress, however, the lower level stress is ongoing which causes a physical reaction that is ongoing -- such as a higher blood pressure, increased heart rate, increased muscle tension, etc. Because the stress response is designed for survival, in moments of stress our cognitive functioning gets compromised, and our brains don’t automatically know if it’s a life or death situation and automatically reacts as though it is life or death, just in case we need to fight off that tiger. 


    Of course, when we’re in this chronic state it doesn’t feel good of course. That’s where stress eating comes in. Because we’re designed to live in homeostasis, or balance, our brains and bodies are working hard to find a way to bring that stress down. 


    A few things happen when we eat. First, because digestion happens best when we’re calm, as soon as we start the process of eating (chewing, salivating, swallowing, etc.), we activate the parasympathetic response, aka the relaxation response , also known as the rest-and-digest process. 


    Secondly, think about what you choose to eat when you’re stressed. Celery? Probably not. Rice cakes? Not usually. Generally we choose high carb, high fat, sugary, and/or salty food. There’s purpose behind this: so we can tell the brain to stop the cortisol. When we put these foods in our bodies, we’re giving ourselves the energy needed to survive a life-or-death situation, therefore, our bodies stop sending out cortisol and creating those uncomfortable body changes. 


    Again, eating really does work…in the moment. Unfortunately, eating this way too often can have negative effects on our physical and emotional health and well-being. 


    What to Do Instead


    Have no fear! There are other ways to activate that parasympathetic response. 


    Ready for the magic? Here it is:

    • Meditation

    • Listening to music

    • Aromatherapy

    • Drawing, painting or other artwork

    • Meditation

    • Playing an instrument

    • Taking a bath

    • A cup of tea

    • Meditation

    • Movement (aka exercise)


    Are you amazed by the magic yet? Here’s more:

    • Deep breaths

    • Talking to a friend

    • Meditation

    • Fresh air

    • Journaling

    • Listening to comedy

    • Getting a pedi or mani


    I know, you’re completely impressed. Not so much, eh? 


    Often we want that magic answer, but the truth is, there isn’t one. What we do know is that these activities really do activate the relaxation response and can be the additional coping strategies we add to our bag of tricks, in addition to eating. 


    Emotional overeating and/or binge eating is much like a freight train that goes barreling into the pleasure centers of our brain, alleviating stress in the short term, but depending on the quantity and frequency, frequently leaving us feeling guilty, shameful, maybe disgusted, not to mention the physical repercussions. 


    These alternative activities aren’t freight trains, but more gentle little shots of pleasure and relaxation, without the damaging aftermath. 


    Meditation, Meditation, Meditation


    By the way, did you notice meditation in there once or, say -- four times? There’s a reason for that. Meditation is one of the best and most direct ways to activate the parasympathetic system and to help alleviate stress. There is a growing body of evidence on this subject. For more information, check out the movie The Connection where many of the greats like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Andrew Weil, Herbert Benson and more, talk about how mediation and mindfulness is so helpful. 


    Add, Don’t Subtract


    Now that you’re more informed on the process of managing stress eating, I’ll leave you with a suggestion.When you think about changing your habit of stress eating, don’t think about taking something away. Instead, think about adding to your practice. That is, add mindfulness and mindful eating to your stress eating and see what happens. It’s amazing what a dose of awareness can do for our “auto-pilot” mode. 


    Shiri Macri is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and leads the behavioral program at Green Mountain at Fox Run, a women’s healthy weight and wellness residential center in Vermont. She uses her extensive background in working with anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and mindfulness to help women overcome struggles with eating, exercise and weight.


TCME is a member and donation supported 501(C)3 non-profit organization. We depend your generosity to make our mindful eating programs available. Make a tax deductible contribution on our donation page

The Center for Mindful Eating

P.O. Box 4286

Portsmouth, NH 03802

info@tcme.org

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