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TCME and Mindful Eating News

  • 25 Jul 2016 9:58 PM | TCME Admin (Administrator)

    Welcome to our Member Spotlight! This month we are delighted to shine the spotlight on the work of Jenna Hollenstein, MS, RDN, CDN, Nutrition Therapist with Eat to Love (

    Q. Jenna, would you share with your mindful eating program with us?

    Beginning September 27th and running for 9 weeks, I will be co-teaching an online course for nutritionists, therapists, coaches, yoga teachers, and the like to learn how to provide meditation instruction to their patients, clients, or students one-on-one or in small groups. My co-teacher (and my own meditation instructor), Susan Piver, is a NY Times bestselling author of 8 books, a Buddhist teacher, and an authorized Meditation Instructor in the Shambhala lineage.

    Together we will be helping students to establish and maintain their own regular meditation practice and then to extend the practice outward in their work with others. Students will be instructed in the basic practice of Shamatha meditation and provided with the tools necessary to create a strong personal practice that is genuine and sustainable. Then they will learn how to instruct others in the technique and to answer the most frequently asked questions about a meditation practice. 


    Q: What is your favorite resource for someone who is interested in mindful eating?

    I see important guidance for creating and sustaining a mindful eating practice in practically every Buddhist text I read, regardless of whether food or body are mentioned expressly. Two of my favorites areThe Places that Scare You and Comfortable with Uncertainty, both by American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron. These texts are incredibly accessible to those of us relatively new to Buddhist teachings and communicate so many of the themes and concepts that are relevant to the different ways we use or misuse food - grasping and attachment to pleasure, resistance of and avoiding discomfort, and ignorance or numbing out. 

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

    Know that mindful eating will not "fix" you. First, because you are not broken. And second, because it will not save you from suffering. It is, however, one of the most kind, gentle, and loving things you can do for yourself that will in fact change the way you relate to your struggles, discomfort, and uncertainty. 

    Meditate. It's essential to having any kind of authentic mindful eating or mindfulness practice. Mindfulness without meditation is like a fat-free cupcake: flat, dense, and lacking in tenderness. 

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

    I began meditating about a year after I stopped drinking. Much like I was a gray-area problem drinker, I was a gray-area disordered eater, despite my extensive training in nutrition. My meditation practice showed me how I was using various distractions to buffer me from what was actually happening in my life. And it provided me with the stability to gradually expand into my discomfort without trying to self-medicate by drinking, eating, or doing any of the other things I did to not deal with my reality. Eventually I put two and two together and saw how a meditation practice could influence others' relationship with food, body, and suffering and decided that was exactly where I wanted to concentrate my personal and professional efforts. 


    Q: What is the one question about mindful eating or mindfulness that makes you cringe?

    "Can I use mindful eating or mindfulness to lose weight?" 

    Much as we should not "use" our meditation practice for a specific goal, a mindful eating practice should not be used to manipulate our bodies in some way. Mindful eating and mindfulness, for me, is about paying attention, being gentle, and being very honest with ourselves about what arises. To do that in any real way, we have to let go of a desire for a certain outcome.  


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

    By practicing mindful eating and meditation, I believe that people can remove the barriers keeping them from engaging fully in their own lives and in the lives of others. When we obsess about food and our bodies, our field of vision gets very narrow, selfish, and small. By cultivating a sane relationship with food and ourselves, we can see our bodies as instruments for working with others rather than objects to be perfected.  

    Q: Why did you join The Center for Mindful Eating (TCME)?

    I believe that TCME is emphasizing the most important aspects of wellness and creating a sane relationship with food and body. Even though I can't participate in as many of the programs as I'd like to because I have a young child, I benefit by just being associated with the group. I invested in a lifetime membership because I know I'll gradually be able to participate more and more and would like to continue to support the organization as it grows in influence and popularity.

    Jenna Hollenstein, MS, RD, CDN, is a writer, nutrition therapist, mindfulness teacher and Open Heart Project Meditation Guide. She will be co-teaching the NEW “How to Become a Meditation Instructor” certified E-Course program with Susan Piver, starting September 27, 2016. This course will certify therapists, counselors, nutritionists, and coaches to teach meditation to their clients (there's early bird pricing available until mid-summer).

    Learn more about this program here

    Read a blog post Jenna wrote entitled: Five Mindfulness Lessons for Coaches

    Thank you, Jenna, for sharing your passion for meditation, mindfulness and mindful eating with all of us. 


    This Member Spotlight is a space for us all to learn about and share our members' ideas, practices, clinical experience, projects, writings, and research regarding mindful eating. All Center for Mindful Eating members are welcome to submit their mindful eating 'Spotlight' which we will then share through our website, Nourish e-newsletter, Mindful Bytes, and our social media outlets. We are happy to help promote your mindful eating related projects provided they are primarily in harmony with our Principles of Mindful Eating and recently published Position Statements.

  • 07 Jul 2016 7:19 PM | TCME Admin (Administrator)

    Are you an ‪#‎AmazonPrime‬ customer? Did you know that when you shop at Amazon you can donate to The Center for Mindful Eating? They're running a mega-promotion (as they do) next week on July 12th, calling it‪ #‎StartWithaSmile‬ ‪#‎PrimeDay‬.

    Start your ‪#‎AmazonSmile‬ shopping here, and designate The Center for Mindful Eating as your charity of choice:

  • 06 Jul 2016 8:41 PM | TCME Admin (Administrator)

    We are delighted to shine our June Member Spotlight on Denise Watson, creator of Mindful Eating Tableware, a dinner plate designed to continually bring attention back to the experience of eating.  

    The mindful eating reminders around the rim of the plate act as visual cues to interrupt emotional and habitual unconscious eating. They cause one to refocus on their eating experience and to observe what thoughts or beliefs are driving their eating. This pause allows them to choose their response rather than to continue to eat reactively. These reminders also help to enhance the physical and emotional benefits of that meal.  

    Mindful Eating Tableware is a way to introduce clients to mindful eating and then to mindfulness in general in order to help them create peace with food and their bodies and more peace and contentment in their lives as well. 

    Q. Would you share some information about your Mindful Eating program with us? 

     Most of my clients come to see me because they are suffering with excess weight. Many have devoted years of their time, and energy, both physically and mentally, in the pursuit of weight loss. I begin with the introduction of mindful eating to help them get back in touch with their true physical need for food and to learn how to nourish their bodies without “diet mentality.” 

    They also begin to recognize any impulses to eat that aren’t due to hunger. By practicing mindfulness at these times, they begin to recognize what it is that they are really “hungry for.”  As they begin to be more present with their thoughts, emotions and beliefs, they start to connect to their higher goals, purpose and meaning. Through this awareness they create balance in their body, mind and spirit, which is the key to their transformation. This holistic approach helps clients achieve their goals (both big and small) and to begin to redirect their time and energy towards living true to themselves.  

    I also teach a yoga class that focuses on introducing mindfulness.  Most of my students initially come to my class because they want to improve their fitness and the way their bodies look. But, like my weight loss clients, after learning and practicing mindfulness for a while, they come to understand that sculpting their bodies to look a certain way is not what they are really ‘hungry for” either!

    I use the Mindful Eating Tableware as a way to introduce mindful eating to more people in order for this same process of awakening to take place. By eating mindfully regularly, we naturally begin to apply mindfulness to other areas of our lives. As we elevate ourselves to our highest potential we create peace and health in our body, mind and spirit. We then can help elevate others and positively impact our families, our culture, and the whole planet. After all, it is our true human nature to grow and evolve spiritually and when we resist this growth, we suffer (with excess weight and body image).

    Q: Would you share with us your favorite resource for someone who is interested in mindful eating?

    On my Facebook page I have a collection of articles and research on mindful eating, mindfulness, neuroscience, and positive psychology.  I like to search social media, websites and bloggers for the most current and trending information.  Some of my favorites are Mindful, Happify. Sounds True, Greater Good Science Center, Yoga Journal, Clean Plates, Chopra Center and The Center for Mindful Eating.   


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

    Practice. Practice. Practice. And begin again. Everything in life is a journey of growth and development and there is no destination. Let go of expectations, outcomes and striving and just set an intention to be the best version of YOU that you can be. Practice mindfulness and make the choices with food and in your actions and word that move you towards this intention so you can elevate yourself to your highest potential and therefore be able to give your gifts to the world.

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

    I have worked in the health care industry for over 30 years.  For the past 6 years I’ve been a health, weight loss and emotional eating coach and a yoga instructor.  It was through training with The Institute for the Psychology of Eating, the study of yoga and Buddhism and the mentoring from a good friend and colleague, Robin Phipps Woodall, (author of Weight Loss Apocalypse) that I began using a mind/body, holistic method of coaching. This approach allowed clients to see that their struggles had little to do with food and that weight loss wasn’t even what they were really seeking. They realized that what they wanted was love and approval and self worth and self- acceptance. Finding the balance between mind, body and spirit, with the help of mindfulness, was the path to their transformation. 

    The idea for Mindful Eating Tableware came out of my own need to “slow down, be present, eat guilt free, taste pleasure, and be grateful” while eating. Like practicing mindful meditation, the visual reminders helped me to continually bring my attention back to what’s happening in the present moment: the experience of eating. My clients began using the plates and found that they were able to be more mindful with food, and to pay attention to each aspect of their eating experience. The practice of noticing thoughts, emotions, beliefs and physical sensations while eating led to being more aware of these components in the other situations in their lives as well.

    Q: What is the one question about mindful eating or mindfulness that makes you cringe?

    Do I have to sit cross-legged with my hands in prayer to practice mindfulness?  

    The answer is: No. Mindfulness is available at any moment, in any situation and in any position. It can be done for seconds or for hours. Anytime that you bring your attention to what is going on in the present moment and just observe it without judgment, that is mindfulness.

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

    I would like mindful eating and mindfulness to create world peace and solve the current health epidemic! It’s not too far fetched!  Through mindful eating we teach people to no longer fear food and to listen to and love their bodies so they can accept themselves and feel safe from rejection due to cultural ideals (they get out of survival mode in the brain.)  Mindfulness can develop a deepened sense of personal contentment, meaning and satisfaction of our lives (also fundamental for health and wellbeing). This peace of mind leads to more compassion for ourselves and for others, which improves our relationships and allows us to see that we all connected (the third basic human need). This consciousness could bring us together regardless of the shape and size of our bodies, our income, race or religion. Changing the way we think, act and speak, because of the practice of mindfulness, can alter our neuropath ways as well as our genetic expression. This awareness could be the key to the transformation that ends social injustice, hate and war and brings health and happiness into the world.

    Q: Why did you join The Center for Mindful Eating?

    I joined The Center to be a part of the movement to help others reach their highest human potential by creating healthier minds, bodies and spirits.

    More information about the Mindful Eating Tableware  

    The Mindful Eating Tableware plates are available for sale directly from Denise's website as an additional tool to assist clients with their mindful eating coaching. They can be purchased individually or wholesale.  The referral program allows clients to receive a promotional code for a discount and a referral reward is provided to whoever promoted the purchase.

    Would you like to participate in our Member Spotlight? We'd love to hear of your work and share it with our community. Open to all TCME members - submit your application here: Member Spotlight (Log in required)

  • 05 Jul 2016 9:15 AM | TCME Admin (Administrator)

    As health care professionals working in the field of Mindful Eating, we may feel challenged when working with someone who is facing the complexities of an eating disorder. And while we may have the best intentions, we could inadvertently harm them by not fully empathizing when it comes to the shades and silences of their suffering.

    Learn more from professionals in the field in our current issue of Food for Thought entitled Eating Disorders and Mindful Eating: Supporting Recovery with Compassion and Collaboration.

    Dr. Kari Anderson identifies at which stages in the therapy process, it is most effective to introduce Mindful Eating to patients battling an eating disorder. The timing of a mindfulness and mindful eating approach is very important and will largely depend on where the patient is in his or her physical and emotional healing process.

    We hear from Caroline Baerten, RD, about her experience of introducing mindful eating to her clients. She thoughtfully encourages us to remember our own embodiment of compassion and understanding, as this is the mirror that will help our patients soften their relationship with themselves and their bodies.

    Dr. Claudia Vega contributes to this issue with our educational handout, providing guidance for patients and their families on how to identify a potential eating disorder.

    We encourage you to read this issue with openness and curiosity. Perhaps you can discover how mindful eating can be of help to anyone with weight and body issues, not just those with classified eating disorders. When more of us approach food and eating with mindfulness, compassion and understanding, the more we will enjoy and love who we are --  and the less likely we will be to inadvertently harm others.

  • 09 Jun 2016 11:41 PM | TCME Admin (Administrator)

    We are delighted to shine our ourJune Member Spotlight on Alice J. Rosen, MSEd, LMHC!

    Alice is the founder of "The No-Diet and Self-Led Eating Workshops" and "The Conscious Cafe.’ She is a faculty member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, a Certified Internal Family Systems Therapist, and former Director of Education for "Feeding Ourselves (SM)."

    She works as a psychotherapist and educator specializing in eating and body image issues, but also addresses more general issues such as anxiety, mood disorders, life transitions, and chronic pain/stress. Her private practice, which spans over twenty-seven years, is located in Concord, MA.

    Q: Alice, would you share with our members more about your mindful eating program?

    I offer weekend intensive workshops called The No-Diet Workshop, and Self-Led Eating. (The latter is for professionals.) These utilize mindfulness to bring about the experience of an authentic ease and pleasure with food, and at the same time, a new confidence in the body to be the guide in matters of eating. I offer monthly Conscious Cafés where people come together to practice mindful eating. I also work individually with clients using the Internal Family Systems Model to get to know, understand, and be freed from what hinders them from being more present around food.

    Another part of my “program” is my teaching and guiding CD The Feeding Ourselves Method, A Guide to Achieving a Healthy Relationship with Food. It is an efficient way to introduce and teach Mindful Eating.

    Q: Would you share with us your favorite resource for someone who is interested in mindful eating?

    Well, I suggest to most to explore TCME. I also recommend that they hook in to the messages and exercises from Green Mountain at Fox Run. These are very balanced and wise. For some clients, I may suggest MBSR, meditation or yoga groups. I also consider books a resource. (One Bowl, Overcoming Overeating, The Zen of Eating, The Slow-Down Diet, Geneen Roth books, True Refuge by Tara Brach are some of my favorites, not to mention, my own CD.

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

    Practicing mindful eating is key, but patience and respect for one’s pace opens the door. What is important, is HOW you eat….. not WHAT you eat.

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

    I had been an emotional eater for over 13 years, with no insight as to how to manage my out-of-control behaviors. In 1979 I took what I knew was to be my last long mindfulness meditation retreat for quite a while. I was about to get my M.S.Ed, enter the world of the employed, get married and have children. I had been meditating for 6 years before that, but had to admit to myself at this “last chance for enlightenment” that I had wasted a lot of time dwelling in past, future and fantasies during prior retreats. It was with a sense of urgency that I decided to be mindful during every aspect of the 10 -day retreat, from transitions to yogi job and even to eating.

    Mindful eating was not a term then, but I remembered instructions years before where the teacher told us to “Notice the intention to pick up the utensil, notice the transit, notice putting utensil down, fully experience food in mouth, swallow. So I did that at my fist evening where they served just apples. To my utter surprise, when there was more than half the apple left, I found no desire, nor intention to pick it up. My mind told me that I should finish it because I hadn’t eaten much all day, that it was the only thing to eat until breakfast, that it was just an apple, that I shouldn’t waste it, etc, but in mindfully going back to my experience in-the-moment, I could find no desire to eat, so I threw it in the compost.

    I found that so curious that I ate mindfully again at breakfast and every meal after for 10 days. I ended up eating less that half of what I normally ate, but was also more satisfied than ever. My body felt so much better, and all the cravings for food and later regrets, which had always accompanied me on retreats, fell away. I felt liberated. I thought I had discovered something, and could not wait to share it with the world when I came out of retreat.

    I have been on this path since then. My joy is that others experience that same feeling for themselves.

    Q: What is the one question about mindful eating or mindfulness that makes you cringe?

    Just one? Maybe it boils down to pervasive doubts that mindfulness of eating is possible and that it “works”. It is generally acknowledged that a little mindfulness can’t hurt, but you still need to follow a diet or caloric plan to keep you in check and in order to lose weight.

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

    I have a big vision for Mindful Eating. Since food is necessary for survival and is literally central to and essential to all that we know, repairing our relationship with food would effect well being on every level, from Nature and spirit, to physical, emotional, social, physical, economic and political.

    My vision is that we are at peace with food, find pleasure in eating, honor and respect it. My vision is that this common sense approach eliminates the diet mentality and frees people from unnecessary suffering.

    In the early 80’s, when my kids were in grade school, I attempted, as a volunteer, to integrate a mindful eating program into the existing curriculum, which included lunchtime. They thought I had two heads! I still think that mindful eating can be seamlessly integrated into any curriculum from preschool on.

    Q: Why did you join TCME?

    Despite the present popularity of Mindfulness, it is actually difficult to find colleagues who fully embrace mindful eating. I have felt quite isolated in this regard. I am very impressed with all that TCME has to offer, and how it has managed to provide so much information and support. I want to join in on, and sustain that effort.

    Alice is leading a Self-Led Eating Weekend Intensive in Concord MA  in June 2016.

  • 08 Jun 2016 12:12 PM | TCME Admin (Administrator)

    An Encouraging Word by Jean Fain


    Whether or not you know her name, you’ve probably heard neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt’s ideas on the downside of dieting and upside of mindful eating. You may recall her incisive analysis of the Biggest Loser study from her recent NY Times op-edor maybe you recognize Aamodt’s geek-next-door fashion sense and sensibility from her 2013 TED talk on why dieting doesn’t usually work.

    Aamodt’s ideas may be provocative, but they’re definitely worth considering. I’ve been an Aamodt fan for a while now, so when I heard she’d transformed her TED talk into a new book, Why Diets Make Us Fat, I jumped at the chance to interview her about her unfolding mindful eating experience. For the abridged version of that illuminating exchange, read my NPR interview. For the unedited version of that Q&A, read on.


    Changing The Conversation From Dieting To Mindful Eating….

    Q. As a therapist specializing in eating issues, I’m well aware of mindful eating’s many benefits. But for those who’ve never stopped and savored a raisin, how do you define mindful eating and what advantages does it have over dieting?


    A. I define it as eating with attention and joy, without judgment. That includes attention to hunger and fullness, to the experience of eating and to its effects on our bodies. As we learn to clearly observe how food tastes and how it makes us feel, we naturally start making more satisfying choices. Mindful eating views food as an ally, while dieting treats it as an enemy, leading to constant struggles between willpower and temptation. That's one reason that the results of mindful eating look better in the long-term than in the short-term, while dieting shows the opposite pattern.


    Q. After three decades of trying and failing to lose the same 10-15 pounds, you resolved to stop dieting and start eating mindfully. What prompted that resolution?


    A. I didn't exactly fail to lose those pounds. Instead I succeeded one time too many. The main trouble with diets is that they work in the short term, but they fail in the long term. As I started to look into the research showing that almost all dieting is yo-yo dieting in practice, I realized that my story was typical, a result of my brain working as it should to protect me from starvation. Knowing that, it didn't make sense to keep doing the same thing and expect different results. The resolution, which I made for New Year's in 2010, was an experiment. I didn't know how well it would work, but I knew that I needed to try something new because the old way was costing a lot of energy and delivering little payoff.


    Q. Judging from the firestorm your recent NY Times op-ed incited, not everyone is ready to ditch dieting and their big weight-loss dreams. In fact, if Reddit commenters are any indication, dieting is as popular as ever. So, I’m curious, who are your ideal readers and how do you hope your book impacts them?


    A. My strongest hope is that parents will read the book and realize that expressing anxiety about children's bodies is not going to make them thinner. Instead, it's likely to lead to weight gain and increase the risk of eating disorders. The easiest place to break the cycle of diet obsession, I think, is at that parent-child relationship, before a lifetime of weight cycling has gotten started. The other class of readers I hope to reach is people like me, who are tired of repeated dieting that isn't getting them anywhere and looking for a better way.


    Q. While you couldn’t be more clear that mindful eating doesn’t guarantee weight loss, you can be sure that a good number of readers will expect to lose weight doing as you’ve done -- eat mindfully without restriction for six months to a year. What do you have to say to them?


    A. Whether or not you hope to lose weight, the process of learning to eat mindfully will go better if you don't make that a goal. Part of the point of mindful eating is to loosen the grip of cognitive controls on your food choices, so you can let the brain regulate hunger as it's done successfully for hundreds of thousands of years. Try mindful eating for the benefits you can count on, such as developing a good relationship with food or being able to apply your willpower to being a better partner, parent, or worker instead of using it up in repeated attempts to fit into smaller pants.


    Q. As of your 2013 Ted Talk, you’d lost 10 pounds. How goes the weight maintenance?


    A. I'm still wearing the blue dress I chose for that talk. As long as my lifestyle is stable, my weight stays the same. Last year I had an injury that stopped me from exercising for several months, and I gained five or 10 pounds. When I became active again, my weight dropped back to normal within a month, without any particular effort.


    Q. You say you can’t learn mindful eating from a book, and I couldn’t agree with you more. How did you learn to eat mindfully and how do you suggest readers do the same?


    A. I learned on my own, without any previous training in mindfulness. I started by deciding to pay attention to how my body felt before and after eating for an entire year. It ended up taking me about six months to learn how to eat mindfully. Early on, I had trouble figuring out whether I was hungry, I think partly because I was invested in getting the "right" answer -- the one that agreed with my preconceptions about whether I should be hungry at the moment. I also had trouble detecting fullness before I'd overeaten. With time and attention, both hunger and fullness signals became stronger. Now I automatically notice when it's time to stop eating, even if I'm deep in conversation. Shaking off the guilt and learning to fully enjoy food was a slower process, which has greatly enhanced my quality of life.


    For people who don't feel comfortable learning on their own, there are a variety of books and workshops that provide mindful eating exercises. But no matter how you approach the experience, you can't skip the exercises and expect to learn anything just by reading or listening. Mindful eating requires experimenting -- "playing with your food," as Jean Kristeller says -- until you learn what works for you and how it feels to eat according to hunger. 


    Q. How do you understand why mindful eating helped you stop eating donuts, but not ice cream?


    A. The simple answer is that I learned to taste my food. When I was dieting, there was so much chatter in my head about "should" and "must" and "don't" around food that it often drowned out the basic experience of eating. Once I learned to pay less attention to those voices and more attention to the physical sensations, I discovered that I didn't like some of the foods I'd been using to cheat on my diet, like donuts or Doritos. But I still love other treats, like ice cream and strawberry shortcake. 


    Closing Thoughts….

    Yes, even the most mindful eater can gain weight as Aamodt did when she got sidelined from exercise. Fortunately, mindful eating has taught her to trust that, even if life throws her a curve ball and she gains a few pounds, her weight generally takes care of itself.  In my professional opinion, that’s as good as it gets.



    Click here to read other volumes of "An Encouraging Word" by Jean Fain.

    In addition to seeing clients in private practice, Jean Fain teaches behavioral medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and she writes for O, The Oprah Magazine, The Huffington Post, among other publications. More information about Jean Fain’s therapy and consulting services, audio CDs, videos and book,The Self-Compassion Diet, is available on her website and her Facebook page. She may be reached at:

  • 02 Jun 2016 7:47 AM | TCME Admin (Administrator)

    Today is World Eating Disorders Action Day. 

    Learn more:

    Learn about the Nine Truths of Eating Disorders from the cast of "To the Bone" ‪#‎WeDoAct‬ 

  • 17 May 2016 10:35 AM | TCME Admin (Administrator)

    Jan Bays wrote: "We can check in with our mind to hear what it is saying, and also with our heart, for emotional cues related to hunger. Taking all this information into account, from overarching awareness we can choose what to eat and how much to eat."

    Mind Hunger

    Thinking about food

    As we learn about the nine different aspects of hunger it can happen that we mistakenly begin to think of “Mind Hunger” as something that is a problem.   Mind Hunger (as I’ve defined it) is composed of thoughts about food and eating, for example:

    • Numbers such as,“ One slice of cheddar cheese has 113 calories.”

    • Facts such as, “One egg has more than your daily requirement of cholesterol.”

    • Instructions such as, “ You have got to stick to your diet. Do not eat anything that contains white sugar or white flour! “

    • Fears such as, “If you eat too much cholesterol you might have a stroke or heart attack. ”

    • Criticism If the Inner Critic creeps in, the thoughts in our mind about food and eating can take a very unpleasant and even destructive turn, such as “You broke your diet by eating a piece of your niece’s birthday cake. You are a hopeless failure.”

    When Mind Hunger takes charge, it can become a problem. This seems to happen when people lose connection to their internal sources of information about hunger and rely instead on external sources of control such as diets, calorie counting and frequent weight checks.


    Minds like information

    Our minds “feed on” scientific and medical information. We like hearing about the latest research on healthy or unhealthy foods. However, that information is always changing. Eggs were “good” during my childhood, but when I was in medical school they became “bad” because they contain cholesterol.  Now they are labeled “good” again, because they are an inexpensive source of protein and don’t seem to raise serum cholesterol. When information about what is healthy changes, our minds can become chronically anxious about eating. And anxiety is not nourishing – not for our minds, bodies or hearts. Additionally, when we feel anxious, we may think we are hungry, since anxiety and hunger share many of the same physical and mental symptoms. We may feel anxious –> eat –> feel more anxious for eating inappropriately –> eat more –> and on and on!

    When our minds orient toward an external locus of control, it tends to pull us away from the valuable sources of wisdom within our own body.  But this does not mean that our minds should be ignored. Diabetics, for example, may be able to detect the sensations in the body that occur when their blood sugar drops (an aspect of what I call Cellular Hunger).  Then it is essential that they listen to what their mind says about the sensations that signal hypoglycemia, and follow its advice, “We need to get some sugar into our body now to avoid problems!”

    Our mind can also help us distinguish between real food and “food-like substances,” through intelligent reading of labels.  Our mind could also point out that we are going to have a very busy afternoon, and it’s not a good idea to skip lunch, and also remind us that we can eat the first three bites mindfully, even if we have to eat the rest of lunch in a hurry.

    brain and heart

    Balancing mind and heart

    Mindful eating is embedded in awareness. From overarching awareness we can check in to body sensations, assessing eye, nose, ear, touch, mouth, stomach and cellular hunger. We can check in with our mind to hear what it is saying, and also with our heart, for emotional cues related to hunger.  Taking all this information into account, from awareness we can choose what to eat and how much to eat. Awareness brings choice, and choice brings freedom, freedom to enjoy the simple pleasure of nourishing ourselves.

    Can you think of other examples of when the mind can be helpful as we shop, cook and eat mindfully?

    As you practice assessing the nine hungers before eating are you able to better balance what the mind says about food and eating with the physiologic cues that come from the body? 

    Jan Chozen Bays, MD, USA

  • 10 May 2016 7:51 PM | TCME Admin (Administrator)

    by Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

    The annual Eat What You Want Day comes around again this year on Wednesday, May 11.

    I spent some time playing with the words and came up with these thoughts to communicate what this day is really about.

    Too bad there’s no M in the words because I would have definitely included mindful eating in the discussion. Then again, all of what I say below is about mindful eating!

    On this Eat What You Want Day, consider these ways to celebrate.

    Enjoy your food. Food is one of the greatest pleasures of life. Pleasure is good medicine.

    Appreciate it. What went into getting it to your plate? Gratitude increases satisfaction.

    Taste it. Savor the flavor to be truly satisfied.

    Wait for hunger before you eat. It’s the best seasoning.

    Honor your internal cues. If you’re hungry, eat. When you feel satisfied, stop.

    Acknowledge that perfection isn’t necessary. We all eat for reasons other than hunger at times. That’s okay.

    Time matters. If you go too long between meals and snacks, it can lead to overeating. Feed yourself regularly.

    Yesterday is the past. If you ate in a way that didn’t make you feel well, don’t worry. Your body can guide you in what to eat today to feel better.

    Overeating is normal. We all do it. If you don’t feel bad about overeating, you may end up doing it less.

    Use compassion liberally. Perfection isn’t possible, nor is it necessary.

    Weigh your choices. Not in terms of how they affect your weight but how they make you feel.

    Act in your own best interest. You are the expert of your own body.

    Now is the time. There’s no better time than the present to start taking good care of yourself. It’s never too late.

    Think about what you really want. Expand your definition of want to include how food makes you feel.

    Happy Eat What You Want Day! I hope it’s the beginning of a lifetime of eating what you want.

    Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD is president and co-owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run, the women’s retreat for healthy weight and well-being that pioneered the non-diet approach over 40 years ago. Mindful eating has been at the core of their approach for over 30 years. Marsha is also vice president of The Center for Mindful Eating.

    Download a copy of this word-play list to practice at home and to offer to your clients.

  • 05 May 2016 3:35 PM | TCME Admin (Administrator)

    CEO/Founder Jenny Eden Coaching  

    Q. Would you share with members more about your mindful Eating program?

    I am doing a series of workshops entitled "The Seduction of Slow Eating" where I first talk about how we became a fast food nation. Then we unpack why we have learned to eat fast and mindlessly and the effects of this on our bodies and minds. Then I discuss techniques for slowing down and end with walking participants through "the raisin experiment." I have also developed a worksheet where I initially have participants eat a piece of food that is provided in their “normal" way of eating and answer several questions afterwards such as "Rate your pleasure" "How quickly did you eat this?” "What nuances or flavors did you notice?" Then I walk them through eating the same food but this time from a mindful and slow perspective and answer the same questions. We then discuss the differences between the two experiences.

    Q: Would you share with us your favorite resource for someone who is interested in mindful eating?

    I really enjoyed Marc David’s book, the "slow-down diet.”  It does a great job of explaining what happens in your body when one eats fast, eats on the go, and eat mindlessly.  I would also recommend Jean Kristeller’s  MB-EAT site which allows someone who is just learning about mindful eating to download some great resources and read the compelling research about this path.

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

    It’s important for me to offer other people important tidbits for slowing down and eating mindfully. But one thing that is often not mentioned in this process is inviting in sensuality and pleasure when eating.  We often feel that experiencing pleasure is somehow inappropriate or taboo and maybe we either don’t deserve to feel it or should be allowed to bring sensuality into eating.  Maybe people equate pleasure in the eating experience with over indulgence in the eating experience and that does not have to be the case at all. In my workshops and in my one on one practice with clients, we work on their relationship with pleasure and sensuality -  and as it relates to their body and to the food experience.

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

    My Mom is a gourmet chef, and after school snacks for me growing up were no joke!  One thing she always told me while I was eating was to sit down at the table (I always ate standing up!), slow down and enjoy my meal.  I never took this to heart until my mid 30’s I started developing digestive issues - which I attribute to being a very quick and mindless, on the go eater.  It wasn’t until I visited Kripalu, in Western MA, where I become enamored with the ideas of “silent” eating which they adopt in their dining room for breakfast and in a separate dining room for the other meals.  There was such a peacefulness in being silent and being fully present to appreciate the nuances of flavors, appreciate where the glorious food came from and really get in touch with my body cues as to when I was ready to stop.  This was a major breakthrough for me that led me on this path.  Years later, I have become a slow and mindful eater, my digestive issues have completely dissipated and I am very in tune with satiety cues in a way I never was before.  My mom, 30 years later, is giving me a big “I told you so!”  

    Q: What is the one question about mindful eating or mindfulness that makes you cringe?

    I get asked all the time if the work I do around mindfulness is science based or more “touchy feely." I think what really bothers me is that many people still feel like meditation and mindfulness is still just for Buddhist monks sitting atop a mountain in Bhutan!  People often don’t realize that this is an empirically sound, scientifically based modality that is helping to treat everything from stress reduction to pain reduction and eating disorders.  It’s a powerful treatment and an accessible practice that anyone can do practically anywhere for FREE!

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

    As a Certified Eating Psychology Coach, I coach people on all aspects of their lives as eaters.  I work with a lot of people who have disordered views about food, their bodies and dieting.  Mindful eating and meditation has been an anchor in my work with clients in that it allows for stillness and quiet amid the chaos of people’s lives, which often then dictates their food choices and food behavior.  I really want to see mindful eating as a vehicle for healing around body image and all kinds of disordered eating.  I envision using mindfulness as a means to create more self compassion, to become more trusting of their choices and their bodies simply by EMBODYING more.  Too many times, we remain in our heads and not squarely in the experience of our body.  I’m very excited at the results I’ve seen so far and can’t wait to see what happens next in my practice and in this field.

    Q: Why did you join The Center for Mindful Eating?

    I joined because I feel that it is a cutting edge organization and really a “one-stop shop” with respect to all things Mindful!  The free webinars and teleconferences, the extensive membership directory, the mindful eating day and the fact that there is even a “Spotlight” on various members to showcase what is going on in the field of mindful eating is really wonderful and a great resource for beginning and experienced practitioners alike.  So glad to be part of it!

    All Members are invited to participate in our Member Spotlight - click the link to submit your info!

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

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