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/
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