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Eating Past, Present, and Future

By Charlene Rayburn

Heavenly rays of light behind the doorReading chapter one of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for the first time was a powerfully eye-opening experience for me. I felt like I was watching “A Christmas Carol.”

I recognized the brilliance of the Mindful Eating Cycle as it told my story of eating in the past, present, and if something didn’t drastically change, my future! Like watching A Christmas Carol again and again, through my ongoing practice, I’m discovering and appreciating the layers and depth it reveals.

Eating Past

Simply reading that first chapter made me feel more understood and hopeful than I had in a long time. I immediately resonated with the stages of the Overeating Eating Cycle: external and emotional triggers, comfort foods, mindless eating, and other patterns that I was trapped in. I was oh-so-familiar with the Restrictive Eating Cycles and the pattern of trying to get control of my overeating through dieting, which meant trying and inevitably failing to follow some expert’s rules, lists of good and bad foods, obsessively planning, measuring, preparing meals, and always thinking about food, resenting what I was supposed to eat, craving what I could not eat, and almost constantly fantasizing about my next snack or meal. For the first time, I was able to clearly see my self-destructive Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle and the futility of continuing down this path expecting something to be different.

Eating Present

Now, when I consciously give attention to my eating cycles throughout the day, each experience is more enjoyable and fulfilling. I’ve gained an even greater understanding of myself and awareness of how important it is to trust my inner wisdom rather than allowing myself to be influenced by society, the media, and even the medical profession.

This awareness has supported many positive changes. Though it seemed counter-intuitive, I now eat more nutritious foods, and I appreciate each satisfying bite. I more quickly recognize old recurring fear thoughts, such as, “I’d better eat all this wonderful food now because who knows when I’ll have the opportunity to eat it again.” My day-to-day, sit-down-to-eat experiences have transformed from fear-based, self-defeating, and discouraging to self-nurturing and gratifying…and far more pleasurable.

Eating Future

I’m certain that dieting, and the guilt, shame, and hopelessness that came with it, will never be part of my life again. Once you know, you can’t unknow! For that I am immeasurably grateful. Does that mean I never behave restrictively or overeat? Of course not. Mindful eating is a practice and a process, but, thankfully perfection isn’t necessary (page 218). When old habits resurface, I learn from the experience and make new choices. I am inspired by the promise of a bright and healthy future minus the diet traps and gimmicks. I can now say that I solidly trust myself to make wise choices regarding my eating and exercise behaviors, and ultimately, my health.

For so long I had searched and searched for the answer. It was as if I was asleep and I’ve finally been awakened! I have no desire to close my world again with the self-sabotaging and self-shaming cycles of deprivation, and its predictable counter-reaction, overindulgence. Am I Hungry? has given me a new awareness, a more peaceful relationship with food, and a feeling of freedom beyond what I knew to dream of.

(Download chapter one of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat here FREE.)


About the author

Charlene Rayburn, CVCC, lives her passion for mindfulness and intentional leadership by serving as a personal and professional leadership coach, by managing a department of dedicated employees for a Fortune 500 sized health insurance organization, and by facilitating Am I Hungry?® workshops and coaching sessions. She has coached extensively with individuals and groups outside the corporate world, as well as with executives, leaders, and teams in non-profit, private, public, governmental, and educational organizations spanning the globe. Charlene received her coaching certificate through the Center for Coaching Mastery at Coachville, LLC, and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Management from Davenport University. She is a member of the National Management Association. One of her most emotionally challenging and rewarding experiences was serving as a volunteer at the Center for Battered Women. Charlene currently lives in Michigan and enjoys spending time with her husband of over 20 years, reading, learning, cooking, practicing yoga, and watching her grandson grow, who lives with his dad, her stepson in Fort Worth, Texas.


  1. jdonton says:

    I’ve been eating mindfully for 4 months and have lost 20 lbs. This is the first thing that has worked for me in 10 years!

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